I’ve got a bit more handspun loveliness for you today, my friends. Are you getting tired of all the pretty yarns yet? Does anyone think I have an unhealthy obsession with spinning? (that might be true) Nevertheless, I’m still in the first stage of infatuation with my new wheel, so spinning is currently beating out knitting as my favorite thing to do when I’m by myself. (although all bets are off when it becomes watermelon sock time. I’m just going to have to finish all my other projects first.) Side note on the new wheel: I feel like she needs a name. Do people name their spinning wheels? Is this a thing? She’s just got so much personality (as well as being tiny and cute) that I feel like she deserves one.
Anyway, back to my spinning adventures. You guys know about Woolgatherings, right? If not, go educate yourselves. They dye absolutely stupendous spinning fiber. Their colors are beautiful, with long repeats that bring so much joy to my heart. The preparation is also beautiful, with fibers drafting easily and smoothly. No unladylike language was used during the spinning of this roving. It was a beautiful dream. You wanna see it, right? Well, this was what I started with:
I tried to spin very fine, but I’m still getting used to my new wheel and I only spun moderately fine. I wanted to keep those scrumptious colors together, so I Navajo plied it on my big spindle. (I refuse to chain ply on the wheel. It upsets me.) Also, the fiber is Blue-faced Leicester and silk, so it’s a trifle grabby. I don’t mind that it’s a bit thicker than I wanted, because look!
I think it looks like pretty autumn leaves or striations in sedimentary rock, but when Greg saw it he thought it looked like blackberry lemonade, and it just stuck. (probably because I want it to be blackberry season reeeeeally badly.) Also, unlike many of my other spinning projects, it knows exactly what it wants to be! (I’ve already downloaded the pattern and everything) It’s going to be the Age of Brass and Steam kerchief! I’ve been wanting to knit this for ages, and the yarn spoke to me, (metaphorically. If my yarn starts actually talking to me, I’m headed right for straight jacket land.) and it demanded to be this! It also happened to be precisely the correct weight and yardage. (230 yards of DK weight.) I love it when stuff works out like that. What do you think about my selection? I’m always open to other opinions
…my obsession with yarn that looks like other stuff. I don’t know why, but I have a thing for yarn that looks like food (not just food, stuff from nature gets me too, but I am super into food yarns.) Like this bacon yarn, or this watermelon yarn. That last is particularly relevant, because I had seen it, and loved it, but there was a huge waiting list at the time. (now it’s like a couple of weeks, but I really am more of an instant gratification kind of girl.) However, it still stuck in my mind, somewhere in the back with all the other stuff I want (it’s a long list) until I came across something on this awesome trip that I took with Liz, which I really will eventually blog about. I fell in love many times over in the Mad Color Fiber Arts booth, she had spinning fiber in Blue Tang colors, and some that looked like Neapolitan ice cream. (I was only saved from buying that by my hatred of brown. I was willing to try to get over it, but I knew in my heart that I would never wear anything I made from it.) However, my heart was utterly, utterly stolen when I found this.
Watermelon colors, in the only thing I love more than self-striping. a GRADIENT. And it’s smooshy-soft superwash merino wool too! The colors are just perfectly saturated, they glow with some kind of chromatic radiance, and I am passionately in love with them. However, they are more than just pretty colors. Now the sheer brilliance of Heather (I’m pretty sure that’s the name of the lady who runs the Mad Color show.) is revealed. She dyes her rovings so that if you tear them exactly in half, and spin each half in the same order, you should be able to ply them together and have them match up. Clever! (She’s a smart lady, that Heather.) If you hate chain plying, you can still get a lovely gradient yarn that way. However, if you’re not afraid to chain ply, other possibilities open up before you. Now I love chain plying. I don’t know why, I find it very satisfying and fun! Only on my spindle though, I tried it once on my wheel and did not like it at all.
So anyway, I already had socks on the brain, and this fiber is superwash, so I became consumed with the idea of having my own special watermelon socks!! I would tear it in half, and chain ply each half, getting two small skeins that each had the watermelon gradient. I was convinced that this idea is awesome. So I tore the fiber in half, stopping, of course, for a shot of the halves arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
Here’s a few progress shots..
And there’s my first skein, cuddling with the fiber for the other one. I cannot wait to be done with this, so I can start knitting up my first pair of handspun socks!!
This may end up being the coolest spinning project I’ve done so far!
Guys, I am running out of titles for these posts. Someone help me think of something clever related to spinning! (I am not joking. If someone can come up with a good spinning related pun, leave it in the comments and I’ll use it as a post title.)
Some of you may think that since I have a wheel now, I don’t use my spindles anymore. If you assumed that, you assumed wrongly! I still use and love my spindles. In particular, I can’t use my wheel while watching shows on my laptop, so if I want to spin while I watch stuff, it’s gotta be a spindle. I have two types of spindles, one that’s just a normal learning spindle, about 2 ounces, from Ashland Bay. I use that for thicker stuff, or Navajo plying. (I still haven’t gotten the hang of Navajo plying on my wheel.) I also have quite a few lighter spindles from Tina’s Angoras on Etsy.
These spindles are very light, super cost effective, and pretty pretty pretty. I have three, and they are gorgeous. I will admit, I frequently match them to the project I’m working on because I’m crazy like that. (leave me my little quirks. they bring me joy.) They also spin quite fine, which is important to me. My favorite yarns to work with tend to be fingering/sport weight, and because I don’t normally spin more than four ounces at a time, I need to spin thinner to get enough yardage to actually make stuff. I love them!
So on to my current project. You have all heard me talk before about how I love Inglenook Fibers. (Inglenook Fibers is da bomb dot com. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. Go look at those pretty fibers and tell me that you don’t love them. Also, Macrina, the girl who dyes them, is just a peach.) Well I saw this a few months ago, and I just had to have it. Look at those colors!!!!
It’s Polwarth and Silk in the Indian Corn colorway. Just stunning. Well, once I got it, I just kept it to pet for a little while. It’s soft like kittens and I adore it! But then I started to wonder what the heck I could actually use it for! I was seduced by the pretty colors and high contrast, but I wasn’t sure what it actually wanted to be. That is, until I saw the Princess Franklin Plaid Collar. It’s a garter stitch based plaid, which I think is very clever. Eureka! the pretty colors wanted to be plaid!! So I did this:
I split the braid up into its component colors, and started spinning each little battling on its own! (I don’t have a drum carder, I just pull the fiber into little bits and make a sandwich with the fibers facing the same way to blend the colors.) I’m tracking my yardage, and I will eventually do the math to decide how wide each stripe of the plaid will be. Probably with many gauge swatches, scribbled calculations, and the optional addition of unladylike language and tears But the end result will be worth it!! I love plaid, and I will really love plaid in these colors.
What do you guys think of my plan? Crazypants or awesome? Any advice on the best way to do this will be greatly appreciated.
I realized as I started to write this that I never blogged the trip where I purchased this fiber, but that’s okay! I’ll do it eventually. I’m still going to show you the finished product
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate how beautiful this is. Ready?
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you what this is! I got this from Enchanted Knoll Farm, and if you remember from a loooong time ago I was freaking out trying to figure out what to do with this lovely. The colors are brilliant and saturated, and I didn’t want to muddy them. Also, the fiber was new to me as well, with a really long staple length. This is mulberry silk of the finest grade, and it is even softer than it looks. It is amazingly smooth and silky and it feels wonderfully luxurious. I made Greg hold it and immediately and without prompting he put it right on his face And then he tried to steal it! For someone who isn’t a yarny, I was very surprised. He enjoys the finished products of knitting, but this is the first time he has evinced any desire to have just the yarn with no product in mind.
I feel like this turned out looking like a carnival! The colors are fun and exciting, and in order to keep them separate, I chain plied this beauty. I think this is going to be a cowl, because it’s only about 170 yards of sport weight. It will be perfect for that, because silk is lovely and warm. I am, however, open to other suggestions.
Thanks for reading friends!!
Blog friends, I have so much lovely spinning that I really need to show you. I try to intersperse the knitting and the spinning for those of you who only come for the knitwear, but I’ve been spinning a lot more than I’ve been knitting lately, so I’ve got a backlog. I therefore declare this next week (or so) the week of Handspun! Where I will show you all of my treasures, and make you super jealous. Also, if you don’t want to see spinning and spinning related stuff, you don’t have to stop by for the next week I’ll miss you though. All you knitters should read anyway, because you might be persuaded to try spinning. It’s super fun! Amd even more relaxing than knitting, in my humble opinion.
On to our first order of business. Remember my dragonfly fairy wings fiber? I finally turned it into yarn!
This was entirely spun on my spindle. The suri alpaca was quite slippery, and needed a pretty tight twist to stay together. It’s not quite as soft as I would like, but is smooth and silky. I gave it a bath the other evening, and it did soften up quite considerably! I was worried that it would have too much of that “prickle factor” as some alpaca does. However, I think I’ll still easily be able to wear it next to the skin. I also spun it with a pattern in mind, and it is perfect! (even the name is perfect)
Dragonfly Wings by Boo Knits! I love all of the Boo Knits shawls. They are ethereal and graceful, little lovely gossamer wisps! They’re a bit whimsical as well, and none more so than this one. It’s as if it was designed for this exact handspun! Even the yardage is just about right. I can’t wait until I can wear this, even though I don’t know what it will go with at all! I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it
Hi blog friends! It’s my birthday!
I’m 23 years old! It’s not like it’s actually a big birthday, but I’m still pretty excited. There will be fun and festivities with friends later, but right now I’m just relaxing. It’s beautiful! I’m going to spin a bit, knit a bit, and maybe watch some Adventure Time (love that show!)
Anyway, here’s what I want for my birthday from all of you! You don’t have to do it if you don’t want, but it’ll be fun! Leave a comment and tell me something I don’t know about you. It doesn’t have to be a huge secret or anything, (after all, this is the internet, where nothing is really private.) just something new and possibly interesting. If you comment here, I probably read your blog, but I want all of us to get to know each other a little bit better. (And for anyone who decides to be a party pooper, everyone has something special about them!) It really should be a fun thing to do, so don’t stress about it
One last thing! I recently started Instagramming (is that even a word?) and I’m currently not following very many people. If you let me know your Instagram username, I can follow you and it will be fun! I need even more yarny goodness in my life. Since I just started with this whole Instagram thing, I don’t really know what I’m doing. However, I am becoming a little obsessed. It’s so much fun! I can be such a teenage girl sometimes.
UPDATE: WordPress has just informed me that this is my 100th post! Happy Birthday to me indeed!
Friends, sometimes you see something, and it is so beautiful and perfect. Not perfect in general, but perfect for a certain person in your life, and you are absolutely required to knit it.
Well, I am happy and surprised to say that such an event occurred to me in the summer of last year. It was when I was first exposed to the idea of hats with dwarf beards on them. Not only did the idea strike me as being absurdly clever, it immediately brought to mind my brother Kyle. This kid is 21, and has the worst case of beard envy ever. Why? I have no idea. He’s super cute without a beard, but I think he had this idea that men with beards are more manly? I don’t know why, but like many guys his age, he wants a beard.
Enter the dwarf beard hats. I saw one on Ravelry, and I knew that Kyle needed one. I also knew that he needed to have the most luxuriant, flowing beard imaginable, and none of the ones on Ravelry were going to cut it. Also, he has a pretty enormous head, and nothing I saw was really going to fit him. So I improvised! And this was the result.
My little brother Luke got in on the action too. His is sortof based on a pattern, but I changed the helmet part a bit and completely did my own thing with the beard. I don’t know if you can really tell, but there’s lots of little braids hidden in there. It’s very dwarfish indeed! They both look like they’re straight out of Lord of the Rings. Kyle also kindof looks like the dad from How to Train your Dragon.
They battled. It was hilarious.
Now, I knew that Kyle would love this, but I was worried that he would only love it secretly. Twenty-one year olds like to be cool, and I was concerned that something as overtly nerdy as this would have to be treated as less awesome than it actually was to maintain street cred or whatever.
I needn’t have worried. Kyle barely took the thing off for the entire day, and then only because it was too hot in the house for him to wear it constantly. He said that it was the best present ever at least fifty times. He kept spreading the beard out over his chest, and petting it. It was awesome! I took a sneaky picture of him wearing it around the house.
I thought Luke would be the one to be obsessed with it, while Kyle would love it in his heart. I don’t think that Luke was quite as pumped, but he still really liked it. He wore it to the theater when we went to see the new Hobbit movie
I had told Kyle that all I wanted for Christmas was an Etsy gift card, so I could buy spinning stuff, and he had obliged, but after he opened his present, he bought me ANOTHER one, because it was the “best present ever”! I was really touched, because he’s a college student, and they’re not exactly known for having lots of money lying around. I was especially happy because I was up pretty much the whole night finishing them. I had a lot of etsy orders for Christmas, so knitting for my family was my “break knitting” during the holidays. (crazy, right?)
I will leave you with just one more thing.
Yarn candy, that is! Look at this scrumptious goodness.
This was my Three Waters Farm merino/sw merino/silk, which I used as my “getting to know you” fiber for my new wheel. I spun it in a very relaxed manner, not trying to be too controlling, learning how my wheel does its thing. I really like the result! I did a 2-ply, and the colors ended up really random in a very fun way! I think it looks like old-fashioned stick candy, and the yarn is just so soft and plush. It’s about 180 yards of a worsted to chunky weight, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Maybe a hat?
Closeup photo to show off the squishiness!!
Most of you probably know this already, but I’ve always been one for knitting small projects. I like the relative instant gratification, and once I’ve been knitting for a few weeks on the same project, I tend to get bored. However, that is going to change this year! Here’s why.
Last year I knit a sweater for Rhinebeck. It was a beautiful pattern, clever and clear, and I am positively obsessed with the result. It’s my favorite sweater!! And, since it was worsted weight, I finished the entire thing in two weeks. I hadn’t thought that was possible, but a lacy pattern on large needles really does just fly by. I was emboldened by this success! I had never really looked at the sweater patterns on ravelry before, but now I was trolling them constantly, trying to find patterns that were worthy of a deeper commitment. I present to you my (by no means) final list. I’m going to try to knit all of these in 2014! I reserve the right to add to or subtract from this list entirely as I please, because that’s what I do
1. Oshima, by Jared Flood.
I love this sweater. It looks amazingly cozy and warm and oversized. I think it may be the polar vortex talking, but I find myself craving sweaters that cover my hands, so I can snuggle into them and hide from the cold. I actually bought yarn for this already during a sale, so I’m reasonably committed! I’m going to use knit picks palette in a lovely heathered lavender. I’ve wanted a light purple sweater since my thrift store cashmere sweater developed holes.
2. Saturn Cardigan, by Hilary Smith Callis.
I don’t know about you guys, but I think this pattern is FABULOUS. I love the cleverness of the colorwork welts. They’re beautiful! And such a neat design feature. I’m not sure about the yarn yet, but I’m thinking white with grapefruit pink accents, maybe even with matching buttons for an extra special little pop of color!
3. Hugo by Veronik Avery.
I may have mentioned this before, but I have a bad habit of thieving Greg’s sweaters. One, in particular, has an almost magnetic charm for me. It’s a charcoal grey, long, oversized (on me) cozy thing that I adore wearing. It’s super warm, and so I end up having it a lot more than he does. I will admit, however, that during the last month when the temperatures have been VERY cold, I have felt just the least bit bad that he doesn’t have this sweater.. I offered to make him a replacement, and I was trying so hard to sell him on Hugo. However, it’s really not his style (too fussy. He’s quite minimalist when it comes to sweaters.) Finally, he said, “If you like it so much, make one for yourself!” and I realized that that was a much better plan! This one will be mine. I’m thinking a similar color to the original, but probably in Valley Yarns Northampton, which is waaaaay cheaper.
4. Beatnik by Nora Gaughan.
I have loved this sweater from the first moment that I saw it, but the orange doesn’t really speak to me. However, when I saw the beautiful modification that Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts created for this sweater, I knew I needed one EXACTLY like it. She’s got these amazing smocked cables going, and it has a more elegant, dressy look than the original. I like it! I want to use TFA Green Label Aran Weight in Seabreeze, but this is one I’ll have to save up for. The yarn is pricey, but totally worth it! I’ve worked with her stuff in the past, and it is truly lovely.
5. Some hunter green cabled thing of my own devising. I’ve always wanted a sort of updated Aran sweater, in a lovely dark emeraldy green. I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted on Ravelry, so I’m going to make it up as I go along. I snagged some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport on an absolutely ridiculous sale, (Don’t you love their sales? a sweater for sub $20 makes me feel powerful and accomplished :P)
That’s the list that I think I can actually get to. There are, however, a few more that are on my “pie in the sky” list.
6. Levenwick by Gudrun Johnson.
I love this sweater. LOVE IT. However, it’s one where I would be too sad making it in any yarn other than the original, so it’s another one I’ll be saving up for. Shelter yarn is beautiful, but not cheap. It’s such a lovely gold though, which actually goes with almost everything! I think I’m going to need to start a jar for yarn money
7. Antrorse by Shannon Cook.
My jaw literally dropped the first time I saw this sweater. I adore it! And every version I see on the blog circuit makes me covet it even more. My ideal color would be a similar one to the original as well. TFA Aran weight in Frost, maybe?
8. Ginny’s Cardigan by Mari Chiba.
I love this cardigan! I think I’d love it in a grey, gold, or blue. Maybe even teal! I think it would be very practical, since it would work with a lot of my dresses.
9. Sugar Maple by Carina Spencer!.
I’m actually planning to (eventually) spin the yarn for this myself! I’ve got two lovely identical gradient rovings, and I’m going to spin them up and ply them together. Hopefully I’ll have enough yarn, if not, I’ll create something that will work with the amount of yarn I have.
10. Moyen Age by Hanna Maciejewska.
I think the shape of this is just so so so flattering! Plus, I love the sortof Celtic vibe it’s got going on. The cables are super cool! I picture this in a dark blood red.
This one is just way too vintagey and cute! I love the stripey neckline, and I think it would be totally adorable in the original bright scarlet. I love big dramatic collars!
Summer Sweaters! I don’t actually have any of these, but I think we can all admit that this is adorable! I think it would look super cute with a pencil skirt, or even just with jeans, and the silhouette is really flattering for almost any figure. I like the original chartreuse color. So cute!
I am obsessed with sweaters! I don’t know how many of these I’ll end up actually making, but that’s my “dream team.” What about you?
P.S. Look what I’ve got on my wheel right now!!
This is Inglenook Fibers tussah silk in Robin’s Egg. Yum! It’s turning (very very slowly) into many yards of a lovely laceweight. I think it looks like mint ice cream!
So I’ve had little knitted blog fodder lately. You guys may have noticed Here’s why: after the crazy success of my Katniss cowl pattern (which I have renamed the Huntress cowl in order to avoid copyright infringement. I don’t want to get sued!) a lot of people got in touch with me and wanted cowls of their own, but either couldn’t knit or didn’t want to go through the long process to do the neckline. So I started selling them on Etsy, and it was actually quite successful! I’ve been knitting my fingers to the bone creating these, and let me tell you, I am amazingly sick of my own pattern I’ve got it completely memorized by now though, which is nice. I totally zoom through them, and the extra money is more than welcome with my research assistant’s salary. It’s just that I miss my creative time, where I could knit something different, or things for my friends, or work on new designs. My design idea notebook is getting completely stuffed with new ideas, but none of them are getting worked on and I have a bit of a backlog of creative energy. I also find that creating something and sending it off to someone you don’t know can be a little like sending out a little baby into the world to fend for itself. You worry about them being loved and cared for! (I know they’re inanimate, but I created them.) Sorry to vent on the blog, but I wanted to know how people knit the same patterns again and again without getting bored? How do you keep from feeling creatively drained if you’re selling your work? And how do you make sure you’re not overdoing it on work if you also have a full-time job? I’d appreciate any insight you guys have, I’m trying to learn to balance my fibery stuff with my real job (which I adore and also think is super important.) Thanks for listening friends!