Category Archives: fibre club

Story of a shawl – Part 1

This incomplete story is the tale of a shawl — from fibre to yarn to shawl. The shawl itself is not complete as is this blog post. But stay tuned. I’ll find my camera and take pictures of the next phase of this art object.

This shawl started out as a lovely roving from the Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club. The colourway is called Waterfall.  In the notes that accompanied the roving, Felicia suggested we try an Ombre approach. Separating all the colours, spinning them in the single colour sequence and then chain plying. So that’s what I did.

This was the first thing I spun  for the Spinzilla contest. And here are all the rolags nicely carded into the colourways and put into some kind of Ombre order.

After an hour of spinning, I was mostly finished with the blue.

After a couple of hours, the green was done too.

[Not sure why this photo is the size of a postage stamp.]

Here is the final yarn, chain plied to preserve the colour ways. You can see the silk shining through.

And here’s the first attempt at a shawl. It’s the Adhara Rainbow Shawl — pattern was from but I can’t find it anymore. It’s essentially a feather and fan pattern that grows.

I kept getting lost in the pattern and ended up un-knitting more than I was knitting. So decided that the yarn/pattern were telling me something.

So I tried another one.

Photos of that one tomorrow.

Wellspring 1/2 mitts – working with the fibre club yarn

The yarn for these mitts came from Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club – this was the March installment. The fibre is English Shetland, a lovely wool to work with. I spun this yarn up on my spindle. After working with the slippery fibres from the January and February installments, it was a relief to work with fibre that has a bit of stick to it.

While they don’t look exactly the same, they are definitely a pair. The pattern for these mitts is my own, it’s a coin lace with a lovely thumb gusset that grows gracefully out of the coin lace. Knit on 3mm needles with 48 stitches, they knit up really fast. It’s become my standby mitt pattern. It’s all in my head and I can easily make minor variations to mix it up a bit.

I’ll post it on Ravelry soon.

March Fibre club: Wellspring colourway in English Shetland

Here’s a photo of the March Fibre club yarn, nearly complete. It’s English Shetland wool that is a delight to spin, especially after spinning the slippery silky/merino/nylon Candygram last week. I am spinning this yarn to be a worsted weight and it spun up fast. All of it has been spun it all on my Houndesign Henry’s Dervish spindle.

I just have two more sets of singles to ply and then I’ll finish them off by boiling and bashing them around. That way they’ll get slightly felted and it also may even out the colours a bit.  The dark colours may lose a bit of dye and the lighter ones may pick it up. At least that’s what I hope will happen.

Two days later:

I finished up the yarn. And then I put all the skeins well tied up with figure eights, into a pasta pot with hot water and a bit of shampoo. I brought it to a boil and then held it at a simmer for 15 minutes. In that time the twist relaxed, the yarn evened out and the colours became a bit more even. The dark sections lost some of their dye and the lighter sections picked it up. I like this yarn a lot better now.

Not sure what it will be. There’s 100+grams of it. Enough to make a set of half-mitts and a hat. Or it could just go into my yarn collection.  I seem to be much more prolific making yarn than I am knitting these days.

Candygram yarn complete

The yarn is all done. Here it is right after being made into skeins.

and here it is all washed and bashed up, ready for knitting.You can see how the yarn softens up and gets its bounce back after a good hot soak. In some sections it’s a sock yarn, and in others is a sport weight.

Not entirely sure how it’s going to knit up, in terms of how the colours will behave with each other. The yarn itself is lovely and soft and strong, so it could be a pair of socks. But the colours and patterning are really asking for it to be some kind of small shawl scarf.  
Then again I could just put it into my yarn collection with all the other stuff that I make. I simply love making yarn. This fibre club is a great way to satisfy my need to constantly explore fibres and colours and get out of my regular rhythms.  
I’m onto the March fibre now. I’m determined to have the Jan/Feb/March fibre spun up before the next cycle begins. January fibre is a merino/silk blend that will take a lot of discipline. That’s why I’ve jumped to the March fibre.  It’s a nice Shetland wool with greens and blues. Easy spinning, worsted weight. Will go fast, I type hopefully.
Will keep you posted.

February Fibre Club: Candygram

Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club is a fun way to experiment with fibres and colours. It’s also a great way to boot you out of any kind of a fibre/spinning rut you may be in.  You sign up for three months at a time. Once a month you get a 100g bag of unspun fibre with a description of the content of the yarn along with some spinning suggestions.
The fibre for February is called Candygram. According to Felicia Lo, “All these saccharine pinks, lilacs, light lime greens and pale blues remind me of those little candy hearts that you get at Valentine’s Day.” And boy, she’s right. These are not colours that would have every chosen for myself. But that’s the fun thing about the Fibre Club. Once you have them, you have to work with them. And it ended up being really fun. I love these intense bold colours and the splash of silver glitter that ekes out one in a while. 
It is made of 63% Superwash Merino Wool, 20% Silk, 15% Nylon, 2% “Silver.” And it was prepared as a pencil roving.  A sleek amount of fibre, about the thickness of a . . . pencil.  
I’ve been off spinning with my wheel due to a spinning injury, and since the spinning workshop last week, I’ve been full on with my spindles. So this is being done entirely with my lace-weight spindles for the singles, and my heavier, Henry’s Dervish for plying.
I actually have crafted a detailed plan for spinning this yarn.  But I won’t explain my thinking until I am sure it worked.  Why bother otherwise?  But here it is nearly done – all the fibre is spun up and I am at the plying stage now.  
From left to right you will see, a larger spindle that I am using for plying with about a third of the plying done.  Next to that you will see two sets of purple balls next to lace-weight spindles full of singles. These are waiting to be wound into two-ply balls which make plying so much easier. The wee green ball at the bottom is the left over from winding a double-ply ball.  I am sure there will be others so this one will get incorporated into the final plan.  The mini skein at the very bottom is one of the sample I did as I tried to figure out how to get the best out of all these colours.

Will post the final results.

At the Ballet: Sample one

While I did promise that I was only going to spin yarn for my 100-Mile skirt this weekend, the January fibre club fibre kept calling me. I justified it by convincing myself I only needed to spin and ply one small nest so I could do a sample. Sampling is good.
Here it is wound directly from the spindle to a toilet paper roll using my ball winder. I attached both ends to the spindle and plied from this centre-pull ball.
I put a lot of twist into the plying and it shows. This is what it looked like when it came off the niddy-noddy. It’s 54 metres of yarn.

A warm water bath relaxed the twist and it settled into the yarn making for a soft , yet highly twisted yarn. The fibre is 50% merino and 50% cultivated silk. Fine fibres like these can take a lot of twist and still remain quite soft. I love the way the subtle variations of pinks come through.  Now I’m looking forward to spinning up the darker nests.

January fibre club: At the Ballet

As a Christmas present to myself, I joined Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club.  I’ve joined it before and thoroughly enjoyed the surprise and challenge each month.  Last week we got our January fibre. It’s called At the Ballet. This is how Felicia Lo describes it:

At the Ballet is blush, cream and pinks, but not the younger girly kind.  It’s more wisened and more graceful. 

It’s 50% fine merino blended with 50% cultivated silk.  You can see the sheen from the silk in this photo that was taken with the flash on.

The colourway is cream, white and light pinks moving into deeper pink hues. A quicky sample on the drop spindle helped me decide how to spin it.  I wasn’t all that interested in barber poling — that’s when one ply is the lighter section and the other ply is the darker one — see photo below. With long stretches of each extreme, the light and the dark pinks, there would be a good chance that it would happen.

It’s a lovely fibre and spins up fine with little effort — just a heck of a lot of twist. So my colleague and I (who is also a member of the fibre club) decided to separate — as well as we could, the light and dark sections. What you see below are the nests of light stuff and nests of the darker stuff.  The plan is to spin all the light stuff lace weight and double-ply it. Spin all the darker stuff lace weight and double-ply that.  Then knit a lace shawl with the darker yarn and use the lighter yarn for the edging.

You can see the subtle gradations of white to pinks in the singles on the spindle above. When it is double-plied the yarn will have some depth, but not the dramatic barber poling you can see in the bottom mini-skein in the photo below.

So that’s our plan. This won’t get in the way of finishing up the 100-mile skirt because this is being spun at work over lunch hour. At least for now.

Waterfall Scarf in Vintage Postcard yarn

Over the weekend I made a very simple scarf. The results are so fun I had to share it with you.  The pattern is Waterfall, by Linda O’Leary.  It’s in 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders.  It is a great resource to help you use up your stock of single skeins. Because of my short attention span, I have a lot of those hanging around the studio. 
The yarn I used was a loosely spun single from Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club.  The colour way is Vintage Postcards and the fibre is Falklands.  I’ve been wondering what to do with this yarn for a while, and when I saw the Waterfall pattern, I knew it had a chance. The colours in the yarn would cause horizontal striping and the dropped stitches would cause vertical striping.  Could be a nice result.
The knitting was simple, straight garter stitch knitted in the back loop.  It’s a minor variation but you get used to it quickly.  The magic comes after the bind-off.  You leave a few live stitches on and then let them run down the length of the scarf – as controlled drop stitches.  The twisted stitches on either side of the dropped stitch keep the stitches tight so the dropped stitch doesn’t make the others around it loose. 
Because the yarn is a loosely spun single, the fibres often caught.  So it wasn’t a simple dropped stitch that ran down the scarf like wildfire.  It was a bit of a tug-o-war and I had to snip fibres occasionally to get it to drop.  Once dropped, the yarn released from the stitch makes a wide space, about three stitches wide.  So the narrow scarf widens.
Still working on the last column of dropped stitches.  But it’s a good result, no?

Status update on my 100-mile skirt

It’s a hot day here in Glen Valley, threatening to go up to 32 degrees by mid-afternoon.  So I thought I’d catch some time indoors next to the fan and do an update on the 100-mile skirt.

A while back I combed a bundle of the grey alpaca and divided what I had done into two batches.  I’ve spun most of that onto two bobbins — very fine with a light twist. Even though this spinning has produced a lot of yardage, I may need more.  So I asked my friend if she would return the bag of grey alpaca I gave her.  It is so nice to have understanding friends.

I have next to spin an equal amount of the blue fibre — totally amazing stuff from Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club.  Titled “Placid Waters” it is 50% merino, 25%  bamboo and 25% tussah silk.  It has a wonderful sheen and subtle gradations of blues.  As with the grey alpaca, I underestimated how much I would need, so again in a mild panic and relying on the kindness of friends, I asked another dear friend if I could have her braid of “plaid waters”.  She willingly gave up her braid and for that I am very thankful.

Now I have no excuse to procrastinate.  I have more than enough fibre to do the job and a good chunk of time on my hands.  My problem is my own attention span.  I like starting projects and trying new things.  The part where you have to finish is the part that takes a lot of discipline.  Right now, this project is in the spinning marathon phase.  Just sit and spin.  And spin.  And then ply, and ply.  And so forth until I have what I figure is enough to get the job done and the skirt made.

Then it’s a knitting triathlon as there are different aspects to the skirt. That I can manage, what with my transit assisted commute to the city.  I’m aiming to wear this skirt by Thanksgiving.  See if I’m right.

July Fibre Club Socks in progress

The last post featured the overspun skein of wool/silk blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club.  It is proving to be wonderful yarn for knitting up socks.  Here they are.  On 2.5 needles with 54 stitches.

I like the way the colour ways are doing a bit of striping and no pooling.  It’s going to be a terrific pair, hope to have them done in time for FibresWest so I can show them to Felicia Lo myself.

Must stay focused and not fall victim to SSS — second sock syndrome. 

There’s a steady rain outside and since I’m averse to housework, there’s nothing to do indoors ‘cept knit, spin and play with fibre.  It’s going to be a good weekend.