Category Archives: 3-ply yarn

Yosemite Colourway: Managing Colours

After my self-proclaimed success pleasant experience with the Lupine Forest colourway, I decided that I needed to stretch myself right out of my comfort zone: colourwise. So when I visited the Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild annual Spin-In a few weekends ago, (where there are VENDORS so you can BUY FIBRE) I came away with four additional colourways from my newly discovered local dyer Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. One of them was Yosemite (on Organic Polwarth), fraught with primary colours and all the secondary colours but purple. Take note of that.

Here it is on display just hours after I bought it. I met my husband for lunch and simply couldn’t leave it in the car. I had to look at it and start studying it because it scared me. Okay, scared is too strong a word, but was not sure how to work with it. What scared me about it? All the strong contrasting colours. What would they look like plied against each other. Would it be a muted yarn with all the intensity of the colours washed out from the balancing that comes from putting complementary colours next to each other?

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When I approach spinning these lovely dyed braids, I pull them apart and try to line them up so I can see the colours and the colour repeats. Given this, see below, I initially thought about making a 4-ply yarn. There are eight repeats that could work. But I don’t have a lazy kate that holds 4 bobbins (weak excuse I know).  Seriously, I wanted the colours to be strong so the singles needed to be thicker than I normally spin. If I made a 4-ply yarn I’d have a bulky yarn and that wasn’t what I wanted, at this point anyway.

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I decided to make a 3-ply yarn and spin the singles a bit thicker than I normally do. That way the colour intensity would prevail. I divided the roving in three equal lengths. I further divided those rovings into 2 parts, 4 parts, and 8 parts – width wise, as seen in the wee balls below ready for spinning.

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I first spun the balls of four onto bobbin one, and then spun another bobbin with the balls of eight sections. After further reflection I decided that wanted the yarn to be a “wildly dancing fractal yarn” so I needed to further divide it. Thus the bobbin that was to have a roving split only into two sections was divided into 16. Yes, 16. That was challenging, but it promised no long lengths of any one colour.

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This yarn was spun and plied all in the same day. Not because that is the best approach, but because I was impatient to see the result. And here it is. The mini-skein to the right is what was left of the two of the bobbins (the four and the eight).

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I love this yarn. I love the way all the colours come out and are fully present. I didn’t spin it fine, so optical mixing doesn’t have as great a chance to occur, With the thicker singles, the colour is strong. Even though I love it, I am also cautious, because I have had experience with yarn that I loved in the skein and hated once knitted and vice versa.

For now I admire it and make plans for it. A cowl, a pair of mitts and a hat? A scarf? Or another lovely skein that I pet and admire.

Feather and Fan cowl — pattern under development

I was so inspired by the yarn I used to make Leah’s hat, I had to keep knitting with it.  I usually knit socks and mitts on size 3mm needles, so using 5mm and larger was a real treat.  Things grow fast when you use thick yarn and large needles.  Duh.

I am in love with the Feather and Fan lace pattern. In fact, I’ve been dabbling with it for a while. The knitting magazine I received in my stocking this year contained an article about the Feather and Fan patterns and all the delightful variations on the theme.  There are dozens. If you haven’t yet explored it, consider doing so.  It is simple and elegant– of the four rows of the pattern, only one row requires you to pay any attention at all — with a series of rhythmic k2togs (knit two together) and yos (yarn overs).  The article ended with instructions/ideas for making items with this pattern.  One of them was a cowl.

Hence, I grabbed the rest of the placid waters yarn and another similar bundle — coal harbour, all from Sweet Georgia Yarns, and cast on. The nice thing about making a hat or a cowl, is not only that it goes by quickly, but it is that you only have to make ONE.  You can make changes and additions and variations, and unless you are trying to design a pattern, you don’t have to worry about repeating it.  Just create as you go.  It’s like free form drawing. 

So here it is, the photo shoot:

Here it is right near the end when I started thinking about taking photos.

Here’s what it looks like after it is washed and blocked.  Quite a simple item don’t you think? It is essentially an 8″ (20 cm) tube with a bit of a skirt.
In this last view you can see the effect of the skirt.  I have cast on again, planning another Feather and Fan lace cowl, but this time making it much more snug.  The Feather and Fan lace has quite a bit of stretch, so it will fit over the head even if it more snug around the neck.
Stay tuned.  I am on holidays and have all the time in the world for knitting and playing around with fibre.


Last minute gift. . . .

I wanted to make a special gift for my son’s girlfriend.  So I looked through my stash and found some yarn that I made from Sweet Georgia Yarn fibre club (in fact I wrote about it in a blog post a while back). The colours were perfect for her — Placid Waters is the name of the colour way. Last year I made her mitts, so this year it had to be a hat.  The yarn is a worsted/chunky weight, so it was just right for the pattern I had in mind. 

The pattern is called Foliage by Emilee Mooney and you can get it on Knitty.com or here.  Knit on size 5mm needles, the hat knits up quickly — 1 1/2 days.  Seriously, I could have knit it in a single day if I had to.  (As far as my aspirations about 100 mile wear go, this one is not Triple A.  It’s a B+.  I spun the yarn and knit the hat.  The fibre is from Sweet Georgia Yarns, a local fibre artist — who does all the dyeing in her studio downtown).

Here’s a close-up of the hat.  The yarn 50% merino, 25% bamboo and 25% silk is wonderful stuff.  The colours are rich and the sheen from the bamboo and silk give an elegance you wouldn’t expect in a chunky yarn.

It’s a beautiful pattern and easy to knit. It may look tricky becasue of the lace work, but it is a straightforward pattern. You can read this lace easily, so if you happen to lose your place in the pattern — jumping up to answer the phone, to take some tourtiere out of the oven, to help with an arrival of groceries that are coming in the door, you can clearly see what you need to do next. 
And here it is, modeled first by Georgia Rose and then by Leah.

Three-Ply Green Yarn Photos

Found the camera, charged up the battery and here are some photos of the three-ply yarn I was telling you about in the previous post.



Three bobbins: top to bottom –
green merrino blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns;
black llama from Mt. Lehman Farms;
Grey Cria Alpaca from Amisto Llamas



Nearly full bobbin

Close up of nearly full bobbin

The colours aren’t coming through in these photos; bad lighting in my living room.  After this bobbin is filled, I will skein it off and start all over again plying the singles and filling bobbins until the fibre runs out.  I will have to spin up more of the green to keep things even with the black and grey, and I do have it in my stash.

After it’s a spun up, the yarn gets washed and then “thwacked”.  To thwack yarn, you take it out of the rinse water, gently squeeze the water out of it and thwack it, hit it really hard against the side of the bathtub.  It’s a very satisfying thing to do and it does wonders for your yarn.  It helps the llama and alpaca bloom and felt a wee bit at the core.  Do this a couple of times on each skein and then hang it to dry.  Will try to get to all of this on the weekend.

Bye for now,

What was I thinking?

I was happily spinning up the black llama and was nearly finished it when I was struck by a memory. 

I hate knitting with black yarn. 

It is difficult to see what I am doing, I can’t read my knitting.  Why am I setting myself up for a project frought with frustration?  Maybe it’s my eyesight, maybe it’s the poor lighting of the spaces where I do most of my knitting these days [the bus and Skytrain].  So last Sunday, I decided on Plan B. 

Background: A while ago I purchased a couple skeins of commercially spun yarn that, from a distance, was a lovely green.  Up close, and peeling apart the three plies that the yarn consisted of, I discovered that the yarn was actually a black, grey and light green single; all working together to make a green yarn.  It was so clever and interesting for the eye.  I was determined to try it out for myself.

Plan B:
So, I quickly finished spinning up the 100 g “bump” of black llama and then started on a 100 g bump of grey cria alpaca that came from another local farm.  Thanks to the Eastern and Western Grey Cup Semi Finals [Canadian Football League] that were on television last Sunday, I had several hours of spinnning.  I was able to get two full bobbins of black llama and grey alpaca.  In my cluster of unfinished spinning projects, I had a full bobbin of green merino/tencel/nylon blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns.  I had spun it fine, and it took such a long time to fill one bobbin, I just never managed to get back to spinning up a second one for plying.  But this one was perfect.  For this Plan B, I needed thinly spun singles, and these three that I had on hand, was what I believed would do the trick.

So I plied the three together.  I have about 1/2 a bobbin filled, but have had to take a break from it due to a fantastically crazy work schedule this week that has me out of town, and away from my wheel.  I will finish it up this weekend — watching the Grey Cup Final, and take some photos so you can see there is method [and reasonably good results] to my madness.