Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Halfobi? Why Not Just Knit a Whole One?

I've just cast on for a new project, the Halfobi by Ivete Tecedor. It is a little jacket type garment in a kimono style. An obi is a sash worn with a kimono; so I'm not really sure where this pattern gets it's name. It is short in length so maybe that contributes. but I think I'll knit mine just a little longer than the one pictured in the pattern. It is plain stockinette stitch, so I'm using a fun colored yarn - Noro Silk Garden in color 245.

I picked this pattern for a couple of reasons, I like the shape and it looks easy. it also has a little bit of seaming at the end. This will be my third garment, but the first time I've had to seam one. I figure it is time to start branching out a little bit. I don't think everything has to be knit in the round. I did do some seaming on my Lizard Ridge Afghan; so I think I'll be able to do it with no problem.

I've also been working on a pair of socks for my husband. I picked them up last week and took a look in my notebook - I started them last march! I just want to finish them before a year goes by. I've got a good shot - I'm ready to turn the heals. I am knitting both socks at once on two circulars. I don't have a current picture; that will have to wait until they are finished. I've also been spinning. I'll have a new finished yarn for Friday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fiber Friday - Sweet Corrosion

I liked spinning this so much better than the Romney I spun for last week. This yarn was spun from hand dyed merino combed top from FatCatKnits. this is the second roving I've used from this shop. The colors are great and the fiber has been easy to prepare for spinning.

This time I did spend more time with the fiber before setting down to spin. You saw the results of that on Monday's post. It really did make the spinning go fast and easy. I think it really helped me to get the final yarn a little more even that I have been getting in the past. So for the time being I will keep preparing the fiber this way.

The color of this fiber was named Sweet Corrosion. I didn't really pay too much attention to the color as I prepared the fiber for spinning. I like the barber pole effect and it helps me to judge plying the yarn when the color of each strand is different. It will be fun to try for a self-striping yarn sometime though.

Brand: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: 100% merino wool
Skein Weight: 4.5 ounces
Skein Length: 264 yards
Spinning Ratio: 17 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Lumpy Bumpy Handspun Hat

I've finally knit something with some of this yarn I've been spinning. I took my husband's favorite skein so far and decided to knit up a hat for him. He wanted a basic hat that was long enough to fold back up over his ears. I wasn't sure how much yarn it would take, so I decided to start from the top down.

I wasn't sure what needles to use because the yarn was thick and thin. I had a couple pairs of US 6 (4 mm) out from the sweater I recently finished so I decided to start with those. I cast on 8 stitches and divided them between my two circular needles and knit the first row. I worked in a 1x1 rib and made evenly spaced increases every other row until I got something that looked big enough to fit on his head.

Then I just knit in 1x1 rib until there was only enough yarn left for the bind off. I used the whole skein in the hat. I think it could have been longer if I had more yarn and in retrospect the size 6 needles might have been a little small overall. But it works at keeping the top of his head warm and he is at least wearing the hat to walk the dog.

I really do like the lumpy texture of this hat. It is nice and soft. It would have made for a great scarf if there had been enough yarn. I also like the fact that there wasn't any yarn leftover. I'm definitely looking forward to more handspun knits!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A is for Attenuate

I joined another ABC Along this year. This one is being hosted by Vicki over at Knitorious. I did one a couple years ago and had fun. It helped me keep some fresh content on my blog and share some of the things I'm interested in other than knitting. So I decided to go for it again because I want to work on my camera skills.

So this one isn't about knitting, but is about my new interest in spinning. A is for attenuate. Attenuate according to Webster's online dictionary means to reduce especially in thickness, density, or force. I didn't know the word until the spinning class I took in December. I thought I understood the word in context, but I looked it up when I got home to be sure.

The instructor was using attenuate in reference to the color of some dyed fiber we were spinning. I can definitely see that when two colors meet while spinning fiber that each does lose some intensity as they mix. You can also see that as fiber is drafted or pre-drafted in preparation for spinning the fiber does become less dense.

This is the fiber I'm working on for this week's Fiber Friday. I decided to spin a two-ply yarn and I plan on spinning each half of the fiber onto different bobbins and then ply each single together. So I split the braid of combed top lengthwise into two somewhat equal halves. Then I took each half and kept splitting the pieces in half lengthwise until I had two large piles of light and fluffy wool. The next step will be to spin the singles to get ready for plying. Preparing the fiber like this will hopefully help me spin a more consistent yarn.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fiber Friday - Romney

No, this isn't going to be about the republican candidate for president, but rather the latest fiber I've been spinning. This is a ball of roving that I purchased at SAFF. The ball weighed in at 8 ounces and it to date the most I've spun of any one fiber. It's 100% Romney from a farm in Michigan. They named this color Tequila Sunset.

According to my Spinner's Companion, Romney is supposed to have a fiber length of about 4-8 inches and be moderatly soft, a good fiber felting and blankets. The fiber I have seems to match up with that description. The fiber length was closer to the 8 inch length and I think it would felt very well. I'm just not sure if I'm ready to felt my handspun yarn yet.

On the plus side, the roving was easy to draft and was fairly inexpensive. It was about half the cost of some of the other fiber I've purchased. On the flip side, I thought that this roving was kind of scratchy and there is no way I'll ever be able to wear it next to my skin. I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but the yarn really isn't very smooth. It seems very hairy to me which is probably why it is scratchy. I'm just not sure if that is because of the fiber or because of the spinner.

There was also still vegetable matter in the fiber. I don't know if I'd say a lot, but this is the first fiber I've tried to spin with an at all, so from my experience it was a lot. Some of it I was able to pick out, but some got through and into the yarn. Oh well, if it's okay for Noro I guess it is okay for my yarn too.

I'm finally starting to get a much more even yarn. There is still variation, which I'm kind of expecting since I'm not a machine. But overall the variation is much less pronounced and things are starting to even out a little bit. This is a two-ply yarn and I would guess that maybe it is about a worsted weight and I ended up with about 204 yards.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Portland Sweater

Well, I finally have my light weight sweater finished and just In time for the cold front we are getting. Had I finished this last week when we were still having 60 and 70 degree days, I could have worn it. But this morning the temperature was in the 30s as I left for work, so the sweater has been put on a shelf until spring weather returns.

This sweater was easy to knit, but maybe a little boring because it is all stockinette stitch except for the shoulders and edges and that is garter stitch. The sweater didn't involve any seaming either and I liked that. The sleeves were knit first and then joined together to begin the body of the sweater.

I think what helped make this sweater was the yarn. I really like the way the yarn feels and I'm a little surprised by that because of all the synthetic fibers. I'm usually not one that likes too much rayon and polyester in my clothes at all - but I like this sweater. The fabric does have a nice drape and softness.

I also love the colors. The little coils in the yarn knit up and gave the stockinette fabric quite a bit of interest. I'm looking forward to wearing this sweater - but I think I"ll need to wear a camisole or t-shirt underneath.

Oh, and that goofy look on my face? Well I'm not yet used to taking my own picture. I got a tripod and a remote control for my camera for Christmas. I can now take my own finished project shots with me as a model.

Project Info
Pattern: The Portland Sweater by Valley Yarns (Webs)
Yarn: Noro Sakura - color #5; 13 skeins;
36% rayon, 28% polyester,
18% nylon, 11% silk,
7% lamb's wool
Needles: addi TURBO - US# 6 (4 mm)
Notes: no modifications were made while knitting this pattern

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fiber Friday - Elegant Autumn

I've really been enjoying my new wheel so I've got more hand spun for this edition of Fiber Friday. This time I tried my hand at spinning some merino wool. I loved spinning it up although I don't think my results so much improvement I was able to get a thinner yarn some of the time. I think that is because of the nature of merino being a little smoother than the other fibers I've tried so far.

This fiber came from Copper Pot Woolies on Etsy. It was 4 ounces of merino fiber in a nice big fluffy ball of roving. The color is named elegant autumn. I ended up with about 162 yards of yarn. My husband picked this out as his favorite hand spun skein so far, so I will set it aside for a hat for him.

I've decided that there is a positive aspect to having a stash of spinning fiber. For the same or even less money, I'm ending up with fiber that I will actually get to use and enjoy twice. The first time the fiber will be used for spinning and the second time will be for knitting. How can you pass up such a great deal?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Fiber Friday - Handspun Edition

This is my fourth attempt at spinning on the new wheel. It's great to be able to use my own yarn for pictures on Fiber Friday. I hope you are all okay with seeing my hand spun instead of a commercial yarn.

This yarn started out as South African wool top from FatCatKnits. I liked spinning this up. The result is a nice soft feeling yarn that I think you could wear next to your skin. I started out with about 4 ounces of fiber and ended up spinning about 122 yards. Everything is still coming out relatively uneven. I think I just need to slow down for a while. I've actually been spinning very fast because I get excited when I sit \down at the wheel. I think I need to relax more and take my time.

I do think some of what I have spun up will make some nice projects; the hard part will be finding small projects to knit with all these smallish amounts of yarn. I'm thinking hats, mittens, or fingerless gloves would work with what I've spun up to this point. I've been spinning more than knitting since Christmas and I'm going to have to start knitting with my new yarn soon.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One, Two, Three

My first three attempts at spinning on my new wheel are complete.

Attempt #1
Fiber: 4 oz Corriedale; FiberMonster
Approx. yards: 74
I liked working with the Corriedale - but I knew that from working with my spindle. The fibers are easy to draft, but not too slippery for my novice hands. I had a lot of breaks in the yarn during spinning and plying. I'd have to say most of that is due to the twist going into the yarn - both too little and too much. I didn't spend much time preparing this fiber. I started spinning it about 5 minutes after getting the wheel set up to go. A little more preparation of the fiber before spinning would help a lot.

Attempt #2
5 oz Corriedale; FiberMonster
Approx. yards: 168
I like this one best because of the color and yardage. I did start out with more fiber so that explains some of extra yardage and I'm getting better at stopping big clumps of fiber from going through my fingers and onto the spindle. I got a lot less breaking during spinning and plying. I also spent more time fluffing and preparing the fiber before spinning. It made the spinning a lot easier.

Attempt #3
Fiber: 4 oz Corriedale Cross; Wooly Treasures
Approx. yards: 176
This is the last of the Corriedale I currently have. I figured I might as well go ahead and finish it all up. I liked these colors better in the fiber braid than I do all spun up.

I'm still not getting a consistent yarn, but it is a lot of fun. I've got to do some reading or take a look at some videos online to see what I need to work on - but I have a feeling this is one of those things that require a good amount of practice.

I need to figure out what to track with each attempt so I can compare and see my improvement. I bought some small tags at the office supply shop to write it all down and attache to the finished skein so I don't have to rely on memory alone. I thought about trying to record the wraps per inch for each skein. These skeins have so many inconsistencies that it would have been an average at best - so I'll start figuring that out later. I've already got some more fiber spun up and just waiting on being plied.