Monday, March 31, 2008

Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl

I've finally finished the shawl and I'm pleased with how it came out. the yarn was not spun with this shawl in mind. But as I was spinning the skeins and searching my fiber stash for what to do next, these colors I used it became apparent to me that these colors would work well together. And as I spun each color up, I decided that I wanted to put them all together for a shawl. So, I searched for a pattern and decided on this Feather and Fan Shawl.

When I started knitting the shawl I wasn't sure I liked how the colors were working up together. I was getting a weird retro vibe that seemed to scream thrift shop, but I kept going and the more I knit the more the thing grew on me. I now like the colors together and the finished shawl.

I was surprised how big the thing ended up being after blocking. I'll have to keep that in mind if I knit any more lace type patterns. There is some satisfaction in knowing that I spun the yarn used in this project. I look forward to knitting another project with handspun. The nice thing is that the knitting hides some of the unique features of the handspun and even things out.

Project Info
The Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl by Sarah Bradberry
Yarn: Handspun by me; 5 different skeins of 100% Bluefaced Leicester
Needles: addi TURBO - US# 7 (4.5 mm)
Finished Width: 83 inches
Finished Height: 34 inches
Notes: no modifications were made to pattern; completed 3 repeat sections

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fiber Friday - Waves

This yarn is spun from Falkland wool roving that bought from the Yarn Wench. This is one of two rovings I bought from her and it won't be my last. I love her sense of color and I really enjoyed spinning the Falkland wool.

Falkland wool refers to wool grown in the Falkland Islands. It comes from a variety of different sheep and there can be a range of softness and staple length of the fiber. The fiber that the Yarn Wench has a staple length of 2.75-4.5 inches and a micron count of 26. Micron count refers to the average fiber diameter. The smaller the number the finer the fiber. These numbers are similar to merino and this yarn is definitely soft enough to wear next to your skin.

I don't know what I'll knit with this yet. I may combine it with next weeks selection for a nice striped scarf.

Brand: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Falkland Wool
Fiber Source: The Yarn Wench
Skein Weight: 4.2 ounces
Skein Length: 250 yards
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash, 1 knot in skein

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How to Knit a Sock Yarn Square

As most of you probably know, I've been using my leftover sock yarn to knit squares for a blanket/afghan . I've been asked several time about a pattern for the squares so I decided to post here in case anyone else is interested. The squares pictured above were just knit up using the leftovers I had from my Chevron scarf. Both squares are knit from Socks That Rock in the medium weight variety. The square on the left is in the Farmhouse color and the square on the right is Watermelon Tourmaline.

I knit these squares in the round using two circular needles. I've only used double pointed needles to knit in the round one time and I didn't like it. Now I only use them to knit i-cord. Everything else is on circular needles. I'm sure that if you prefer double pointed needles that this can be adapted very easily.

Sock Yarn Square

Needles: two addi Turbo US#1 needles (24 inch)
Yarn: Leftover sock yarn. The amount needed will vary depending on the weight of the yarn. I've knit a square that weighed as little as 10 grams and as much as 26 grams. For example squares knit out of Opal sock yarn typically weigh about 12 grams, squares knit with Koigu KPPPM weigh about 16 grams and STR medium weight squares will weigh about 26 grams.

Cast on 12 stitches and divide them evenly between two needles. (6 stitches per needle)

Round 1 - Knit around
Round 2 - K1, YO, K1, YO, K1 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 3 - (and all odd #'ed rounds) - Knit around; knitting all YO's through the back loop
Round 4 - K2, YO, K1, YO, K2 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 6 - K3, YO, K1, YO, K3 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 8 - K4, YO, K1, YO, K4 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 10 - K5, YO, K1, YO, K5 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 12 - K6, YO, K1, YO, K6 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 14 - K7, YO, K1, YO, K7 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 16 - K8, YO, K1, YO, K8 (repeat 3 more times)
Round 18 - K9, YO, K1, YO, K9 (repeat 3 more times)

Follow this pattern of increases until the square is as large as you'd like. End with a odd numbered row. Block all the squares to the same size and seam together. I haven't decided how I'm going to connect them yet and probably won't cross that bridge until I have to start seaming. I've also thought about adding a border once the squares are together too.

If you have questions you can e-mail me and I'll do my best to answer. If you find any typos let me know and I'll correct this post.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Quick Diversion or Two

I was knitting on the two shawls I currently have on the needles and my attention started to wonder to other things and projects that I wanted to start. So I decided that I needed to take a break and start a small project that I could finish very quickly.

I thought this would help satisfy my desire for a finished project and then let me get some focus back to continue working on my shawls.

This hat is the result. I used the Amanda Hat pattern from Sleepy Eyes Knitting. I followed the pattern and was able to finish this in one evening. I used the US 9 needles that the pattern called for and the hat fits fine, but is a little on the large side. If I knit the pattern again I'll go down on needle size.

I loved knitting with the worsted weight Wollmeise Merino. It's soft and squishy. I now have two and a half skeins of this color left and need to figure out something - maybe a nice long scarf to go with the hat.

I also decided to pop off a quick baby hat with some leftover sock yarn. This one is knit with Socks That Rock Sock Candy in the kiwi color. Anyway, the hat diversion worked. I'm back to working on my shawls. I'm expecting to have the feather and fan shawl ready for show next week.

Project Info
Pattern: The Amanda Hat by Sleepy Eyes Knitting
Yarn: Wollmeise Merino-lammdochtwolle; color rhabarber
Needles: addi TURBO - US# 9(5.5 mm)
Notes: no modifications were made while knitting this pattern; just over half a skein was used (about 58 grams)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fiber Friday - Ribbon Dance

This is my second attempt at spinning fiber from batts. The first time the fiber was full of little nepps or snarls. Not a problem this time at all. The fiber was wonderful to work with and easy to spin. You can see the two batts I had in the bottom photo.

I imagined several different ways of dividing the fiber and spinning it up, but in the end I just split each batt into narrow strips and spun the colors all mixed up onto two bobbins.

I then just plied the two singles together. I do like the resulting yarn and how the smooth shiny bits are intertwined with the rougher wool.

I laid the skein around my neck and the wool made it seem a little rough so I"m not sure what I'll knit with it yet, but it does look pretty sitting in the yarn basket.

Brand: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Bamboo, Corriedale, English wool and silk
Fiber Source: Loop on Etsy
Skein Weight: 3 ounces
Skein Length: 106 yards
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash

Monday, March 17, 2008

Three for One

I started with one skein of Socks That Rock medium weight and ended up with three knit items and a few scraps of yarn leftover. First, I finished the socks I started last week. It was so nice to finish a pair of socks so quickly. I think the key this time was using size 3 needles instead of the zeros from last time. The pattern is nice and simple but I think that the strong colors of the yarn obscure it just a little bit. The socks are nice and squishy. The thicker weight is nice, but not too thick. I'd definitely use this combination again.

I was also able to get a small baby hat out of the leftovers. I'll put this one in the Hats for Alex bag I've got going. The hat is small but should fit a newborn. I didn't really follow a pattern for this, just started at the bottom with a little 2x2 ribbing and worked my way to the top and finished off with a little bit of icord.

I also had enough yarn for an afghan square too. I've had a couple people ask about the squares, so I'll make a post this week or next that describes how I make the squares.

Project Info
Pattern: Ampersand Socks from Through the Loops!
Yarn: Socks That Rock - medium weight
color - Chapman Springs
Needles: addi TURBO - US# 3 (3.25 mm)
Notes: Changed pattern to go toe up and use a short row toe and heel

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fiber Friday - Flame

I don't have any pictures of this fiber before spinning it up. If you are interested, I think you can see the original braid of fiber on etsy. I'm going to start taking pictures of the fiber before spinning to post as well as the finished yarn shots. I always think it is interesting to see a hunk of fiber spins up. I'm still learning how to look at hand dyed fiber and visualize how the finished yarn will look. There are always so many ways to divide and spin a particular piece of fiber.

I really liked working with this fiber. The dye job was great and the fiber was easy to draft and work with. I have one more braid of Bluefaced Leicester from this dyer, Pigeonroof Studios. I have a hard time getting any fiber from this dyer though, because it seems like as soon as she posts any new fiber to esty it is gone in a flash. I was lucky to get two braids of merino last night though.

This is the first skein for which I tried to take a wpi (wraps per inch) measurement. I do think that if I had taken this measurement in a couple different places in the skein I would have gotten some variety in the results. But I'm going to try and start collecting this information anyway. I got a wpi of 19 for this skein, but I'm not too sure if that is accurate.

Brand: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: 100% Bluefaced Leicester
Fiber Source: Pigeonroof Studios
Skein Weight: 4.2 ounces
Skein Length: 242 yards
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
WPI: 19
Spinning Method: worsted
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Already in Progress

The knitting on Halfobi is finished. I know just have to block and seam it up. I need to make a trip to the LYS to find something for seaming and an edging. The pattern calls for a single crocheted edge. I'm considering adding an applied i-cord instead. The hard part will be picking out a color, but I should be able to come up with something.

I finally started a project with my handspun yarn. I didn't have this project planned when I bought the fiber, but as I spun each color up I realized that I could put them together and end up with something a little bigger than hat or a scarf.

I settled on the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl pattern. I like how the colors are working together. I've been switching colors every few rows. I think I got quite a bit done, but by Sunday I was getting a little antsy and was looking for a different project to focus on for awhile.

So I decided to start a pair of socks. I went through my stash and settled on a skein of Socks That Rock in medium weight. I went looking for a pattern and decided to try out Ampersand from Through the Loops. I've only changed one thing so far. The pattern is written top down, but I decided to go toe up. I'm loving how quick these are working up on size US 3 needles! Such a treat after working on those zeros. I'll be interested in seeing how I like wearing these socks because I do think that they will be a little bulkier.

While I was selecting a skein of sock yarn, I ran across some Silk Garden I had put aside for the Lady Eleanor Stole from Scarf Style. So, I decided to start that too. This was one of the first projects I picked out when I learned to knit. I've always passed it by to start some other project though. I just assumed that entrelac would be difficult. Sunday was the first time I actually sat down and read through the pattern. I love the effect and it is surprisingly easy. Now I've just got to finish something!

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Hobby - New Tools

A new hobby usually mean that I end up with new tools and gadgets. Spinning is no different. Of course , the most important new tool is the spinning wheel. This is a Lendrum Double Treadle wheel. It's main purpose is to put twist into fiber. I also have a spindle that serves the exact same purpose, but the wheel is much quicker and I feel I have more control over the whole process with a wheel.

The wheel folds flat and came with a carrying case. My husband thought it would be great because it could be folded up and stored in a closet when not in use.

He was afraid spinning wouldn't hold my interest and we end up with something that just sat around taking up space. But to be honest the wheel hasn't moved very far from this spot since I got it. And if you've been reading my blog on Fridays you've seen the proof that I've been using the wheel.

There are several extra parts that came with the wheel that aren't pictured here. I have a couple different flyers and extra bobbins. The flyers are part of what determine the rate at which twist is put into the fiber and holds the bobbin. You can see the arms of the flyer and the bobbin in the above picture. You can also see that beautifully dyed fiber I've been working on from the Yarn Wench. It will show up as a finished yarn on some future Friday.

I also needed a way to get the yarn off of the wheel and into a hank. I use a kniddy knoddy for that. I can also estimate the yardage by counting the number of times the yarn is wrapped around it. I ended up with a kniddy knoddy that can make a 2 yard skein or a small 1 yarn skein. The end pieces come off and attached to 2 different lengths of wood. I use this tool a lot, but I wouldn't buy this particular one again. The end pieces don't stay on well and that makes it very difficult to use. I need to glue the end pieces on, but that will mean it is no longer adjustable. The shipping labels are what i use to tag each skein of yarn when it is finished. I put fiber content, weight, yardage and anything else I can think of that I might want to remember.

Of course there are kinds of little gadgets too. I usually spin in bare feet or some type of slipper sock because they have little rubberized things on the bottom. I have found that my feet slide around too much in regular socks. I have found a knitting pattern for similar socks and plan to replace the store bought ones here with some knit from my own handspun. I've got two WPI tools (wraps per inch). I bought the one laying on the pink socks from etsy. The other came as part of my spinning lesson a couple of weeks ago. I haven't used them too much yet, but I'm going to start noting that for all my handspun yarns. The little bottle with the yellow tip is oil. I think I've only used one drop to date. The plastic card with the black lines is meant to help you check the thickness of your yarn as you spin. It was in my stocking for Christmas, but I haven't used this it at all yet. The project cards on the left are a great idea and were also part of my recent lesson. you can record all types of pertinent info about a specific spinning project as well as a sample of the singles yarn and the plied yarn. This will be extremely helpful when I'm spinning enough yarn for a larger project and want to be able to make consistent yarn for the whole project.

I took a look through my fiber stash this weekend to decide what to work on next. I pulled out this Bluefaced Leicester that I bought at SAFF last year. I pulled the fiber into two pieces lengthwise and coiled them up from opposite ends. I think I'm going to try and spin up a self striping yarn 2 ply yarn.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fiber Friday - Brazilianite

This is it - the last skein for my shawl. I've decided to go for the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl pattern. There is something about the pattern I really like and maybe when I'm finished I'll change my mind about triangular shaped shawls.

I'm going to cast on for this project over the weekend. I'm really looking forward to knitting with some of my handspun. I knit a hat using some of my handspun before, but this actually seems a little more substantial and a better test.

I'm also going to do some spinning. I need to pull out all my stashed fiber and see what I can come up with. I'd like to go ahead and spin for another project but I also like just sitting down to spin up a random skein. It might also be nice to go ahead and take photos of all the fiber now so I can have before and after shots for spinning projects. Would it be interesting if I posted a picture of the fiber and finished yarn?

Brand: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: 100% Bluefaced Leicester
Fiber Source: The Fiber Denn on Etsy
Skein Weight: 4 ounces
Skein Length: 250 yards
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Results May Vary

This is probably the first time I'm really not happy with my spinning results. I'm going to lay the blame for my displeasure somewhere between the fiber and my inexperience. Most of the problems originated in the fiber and preparation of the fiber before I got it. But I think if I was a better spinner I could have made it all work out a little better.

The fiber was anything but a pleasure to spin. It was all full of little neps. Neps are little tangles or snarls of short fibers and usually occur during the carding process. Carding is a preparation that makes all those lovely fiber batts. But the individual fibers aren't as parallel as say with combing and shorter fibers can have a tendency to snarl and form these little tangles. I though about trying to pull these out as I was spinning, but there were really too many of them to even start to try that. It also made the fiber a little harder to draft into a smooth fine yarn.

I was hoping that plying would hide some of the lumps and it did hide some of them, but not all. you can still see some of the little lumps in the finished yarn and places where I had problems drafting the fiber to a nice even consistency.

I probably should have realized all of this before I started spinning and worked out a way to make it work, but I didn't. I get very excited when I'm going to sit down to spin and usually just jump right in. I think I could have spun a thicker or loftier yarn and hid even more of these little things. I do think that knitting will actually hide some of them too. Ah well, spin and learn right?