Category Archives: handspun yarn

Night Owl – ombre inspired yarn

I blogged about this fibre a few posts back and now it is all spun up.  I spun the yarn quite finely with a lot of twist as I chain plied it.  You can really see the separate colours in this view.

I produced a decent 235 yard/ 207 m skein, 114g.

And here it is wound into a ball sitting next to another ombre inspired yarn I made during Spinzilla in October. The silk in these yarns really comes through.

Now I’m looking for a project. Thinking about a long shawl/scarf that would show off the colour gradations. What do you think?

Finally getting to weaving

This past weekend I finally got around to doing the weaving on my first floor loom weaving project.The weft is handspun Merino 60% Bamboo 30% and Nylon 10% in a colourway called “London Town” inspired by the 2012 Summer Olympics. But as I weave it up it reminds me a great deal of the colours of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This is three bobbins worth of spinning. I have four more available. The loom has its quirks, but I am getting used to it and am adjusting to the rhythm of it. Busy week so won’t get much more woven until the weekend. Stay tuned.

Weft yarn for my first scarf

Here is the yarn I am going to use as the weft for my scarf. The colourway is London Town, it’s from the Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club. The fibre blend is called Panda – Merino 60%; Bamboo 30% and Nylon 10%. Lovely, soft, silky and with an excellent drape. And at 420 yards, there is plenty for a scarf.
I spun this up during the Spinzilla contest. It was the last full braid I completed. 

Singles ready for plying.

Newly plied yarn in a skein, ready for a bath.

Now I just have to finish dressing the loom, and then can get started on the weaving. I haven’t made any additional progress on dressing it since my blog post about it. And tomorrow the knitting Olympics start, so not sure what kind of effort I’ll have for weaving.

Will keep you posted.

The Candygram Socks

Sometime back in March 2013 (was it really that long ago?) I spun up the February Fibre club yarn called Candygram. It is lovely stuff with just a wee bit of sparkle – not enough to make it tacky, but enough to make it special. Recovering from a spinning-inspired knee injury, I spun this 100 grams on my drop spindles. You can find all the info about this fibre and the spinning in this blog post.

Once it was spun up I stared at the yarn for a long time. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like the purples and lime greens together and thought they’d look muddy when knit up.

Well I was wrong. Really wrong. This was a case of ugly yarn, lovely result. The yarn actually striped up when it was knit, and even those rare times when the greens and purples collided, it was actually okay.

So here they are, a pair of socks. Just my basic “mindless-knitting” sock pattern. They aren’t exactly the same, but they surely are a pair.

Flash off.

 Flash on.

Just to make sure I didn’t get SSS (second-sock syndrome) I knit them mostly together. Cuff on #1, cuff on #2. heel flap on #1, heel flap on #2, and so on right down to the decreases at the toe. I recommend doing socks this way — it’s easy to remember the pattern when you are doing on piece following another. And for me, I know that once I saw the result of the yarn, the mystery was over and I could easy be left with just one sock. Nope, not now. I now have a lovely pair of socks to show off at the next fibre event!

Story of a shawl – Part 2

I tried another shawl with the Waterfall yarn I made during Spinzilla week. This is the Spiral Staircase pattern from Ravelry. Easy peasy. While it does do what I was hoping it would so, show off the subtle colour gradations – I should have used larger needles. This shawl is too small for my liking and the fabric that knit up — on the 4mm needles is too dense. I’m going to try it again with 6mm needles so the fabric will be looser and have a chance to drape.

And I will plan it better, so I use every inch of the yarn, unlike the sample above.

Spinzilla: The Final Photo Shoot

Spinzilla is over and the plying has ended. The first three skeins are double-plied, the next two are Navajo plied, and the last one on the right is a singles, and will stay that way.It has all been washed, thwacked and bashed about. In other words, it’s all ready to be made into some fantastic object.

Though right now, I am not entirely sure what that will be. Some things to consider: all the yarn is a wool/silk and at times, something else blend. It’s sleek, fine, and has potential for a lovely drape.

The only skein I have plans for is the Waterfall one. That one is the fourth from the left. It was done in an Ombre mode, so the colours blend in a long colourway. That one begs to be a shawl. Over the weekend, I’ll tour around Ravelry and see what’s possible.

I will of course keep you posted.

PS – Team Sweet Georgia – the team I spun for, came in 6th out of 34 international teams. I’d say that’s a good showing.

Handspun collection – a fairly decent obsession

I’ve been making yarn since February 2000. I’ve made a lot of yarn in that time and have knit many items with it. Lately though, I’ve been spending more time making yarn than I have knitting. Until Sunday, I had it all stashed in various boxes, bags, drawers and bins. I knew there was a lot of it, and I felt it was time to bit of an inventory. So I pulled it all out and assembled it on my studio table.

And here it is. Some of it has been partially used as you can see by the size of some of the wound balls. But some, and much of it is still in the skein, right off the niddy-noddy.

I make yarn because I love yarn and I love to play with fibres and blends and colours. I do love to knit, really I do, but there is something about making yarn that satisfies me even more.

I had every plan to organize the above yarn; rewind the balls to make them neater; organize them according to fibre content or colour; separate them into project piles with matching patterns. But in the end I left it on the desk for the entire day admiring it and reacquainting myself with many of the skeins/balls. In the end I tossed the entire collection into a large see-through bin. (I’ll eventually sort it out and decide which skeins to sell at upcoming workshops and demonstration, and which ones will get knit into lovely items.)

Then I found more handspun. This is yarn made from the Crazy Batt sessions we’ve had at the guild. I still have about 8 more batts waiting to be spun . . . and I have no plans for this yarn. I just love the look of it.

I know you understand what I mean by that. 

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.

Spinning Workshop: Session Four

Last Sunday we had the fourth and final (for now) spinning lesson at my place. We had a lot that we still wanted to get done so I was quite a task master.

First thing we did was a lot of spinning. I wanted to make sure each one not only had the basics of drafting and putting twist into the fibre, but that they were able to troubleshoot any problems at would arise as they spun. Happy to say that all four spinners are making a continuous thread that gets more and more consistent each week. And for the most part, they can figure out how to fix a problem like over or under twisting, and are in much more control of their wheels. In the beginning, we often feel that the wheel is controlling us and it takes some time before your get the upper-hand. Once you do, you are well on your way to being an independent spinner.

They were all interested in fibre preparation techniques, so to make the drum carding session more interesting, I showed them how to make Crazy Batts. Those are the lovely batts you make from a variety of fibres, colours and textures. The resulting yarn from a Crazy Batt looks something like this:

It’s fun and funky yarn. Below is a small sampling of the fibres we were working with — mostly wool in a variety of colours, but there was also some kid mohair thrown in, you can see that in the top right corner.

Added to the mix was all sorts of other things, bits of silk noil, cut up silk hankies, pieces of commercial yarn that has texture. All this gets made into “fibre sandwiches”. Each sandwich has a layer of fibre, some yarn bits, another layer of different fibre, more texture bits and finish off with a final layer of fibre.This sandwich gets fed into the drum carder.  Usually 4 or 5 sandwiches do the trick and you have a decent sized crazy batt. Here’s what our table looked like when we were in full production.

After making crazy batts for about an hour, I demonstrated how to use the picker.

It’s a crazy looking and highly dangerous piece of equipment that you use to tease the fibres to get them ready for drum carding. If you are into a high level of production, it’s a good idea to have one. But one way or another, it’s a good idea to learn the right way how to use that piece of equipment. You can ruin fibres and ruin your arm if you don’t do it right.

Major rule: never, ever put your hands near the teeth.  However tempting it may be to just pull a bit of fibre out of the way. Always use another tool, never your own hand.

So the class and I are taking a break for a few weeks.  Lambing is coming on and other family obligations have us busy for next few Sundays.  But we are going to start up again with more fibre preparation, more spinning techniques and more fibres.

Stay tuned.

100-mile skirt update

As a result of a great effort, and I kid you not, I now have two decent sized skeins of 2 x 2 cabled yarn.  It is a total of 400 m and 212 g. I know I don’t have enough to make the entire skirt, but I have enough to get started, and maybe even get mid-thigh. But it’s a darned good start and that’s exactly what I need.
As a reminder, this yarn is made up of two strands of 2-ply yarn. In each strand there is a singles of grey alpaca and a singles of blue merino/silk/bamboo.Yes, that’s singles with an “s”, the single strand of yarn that you spin is called a singles. Don’t argue with me, I didn’t make up this spinning language.  
When you spin the singles for a cabled yarn, it’s a good idea to put a gentle twist into it. The fibres I am/was working with are fine fibres and I was spinning a thin yarn, so I made sure that there was enough twist to just lock the fibres into place, that’s a way to ensure a gentle twist.  Then I plied the grey and blue together putting a lot of twist into the ply. A lot of twist into it. So much that I had to take breaks because my treadling leg got tired. Seriously.  And I’m a runner. 
Then I plied those over/super plied yarns together and got a 2 x 2 cabled yarn.  Why all this work you ask?
I am making a skirt that I want to last and look good.  The seat of a skirt gets wear and tear so I wanted a structure that can take wear and tear and bounce back.  A cabled yarn is the answer.  At least that’s what I have been lead to believe.

Here are the finished skeins all washed, bashed and ready to be made into balls and knit up. They are soft, surprisingly light and from a distance they look like denim.  There’s 400 m of it, so it’s enough to really get going on this skirt and then only (hopefully) have a wee bit to spin up to finish.

And then I’ll have a 100-mile skirt.

Imagine that.