Friday, February 27, 2009

Handspun Friday - AquaVelva

If you remember last week's handspun post, I commented a lot on the fiber weight and speculated on how that was affecting my over finished yardage. Well talk about foreshadowing, while I was working with this fiber Miss Scarlett helped her self to a sample and chewed it up and spread it all over the dining room. So I didn't get to spin all the fiber I had, some did not survive the attack.

So the only weight I have this week is the finished weight. But as Dave pointed out in the comments last week, a little more fiber alone wouldn't give me the yardage I was wanting. He's right of course, the amount of fiber I was talking about would not make a significant contribution to yardage. So I sat down this week and thought of all the things I could do to get more yardage out of my fiber. I got over 40 yards more this week than last . The variable this time is twist.

This week I really concentrated on twist and made an effort to put less twist in my singles and my plying. The net result was 42 more yards and my finished yarn is a little bit softer . You can also see that the WPI measurement is quite a bit different too. So a little less twist made the fiber go further and it is a little more lofty and less dense. I like the results.

I haven't started a skein for next week, but I'm hoping to do that today. I'm thinking about another try at chain plying this time.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Fiber: All Spun Up
Content: Superwash Merino
Fiber: combed top
Weight: 3.80 ounces (finished yarn)
Yardage: 258 yard
WPI: 12 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10to 1
Notes: 3 ply

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Knitting Photos

I've had a lot going on recently at home and work, but I've been sneaking in the knitting when I can. Sunday I even managed to spent the morning taking a yarn photography class with Franklin Habit. It was sponsored by a LYS. I had a good time and learned a few things, but oddly enough I didn't end up with a photo of Franklin to post on the blog.

I did take these project shots during class. While they don't look like a big improvement from what I was getting, I think I can incorporate some of the ideas into my pictures in the future. Hopefully I'll be able to get better shots and pass any successful ideas on to you.

One of the main things we did was turn off the flash on our cameras. I was really surprised how good the pictures came out, but the room was lit with a lot of overhead lights. I was surprised at just how much better the true color of my projects showed up in the photos just by turning off the flash. I will definitely be trying out more lighting options at home for my knitting photos.

The project is a pair of plain ribbed socks in some stashed yarn I had. The yarn got pulled out to work on one of the Traveling Scarves I knit a section for, so I decided to go ahead and use the rest for a pair of socks. I'll post some on the Traveling Scarf project next week.

This photo is of a gauge swatch, yes I finally knit a swatch, for the February Lady sweater. I'm using Sock that Rock Heavyweight in a color called Korppi and actually the color showed up pretty good in the photo. The base color is black and there are purple and green highlights through out.

Probably one of my more subdued color choices, but I think it will make a wonderful sweater. I picked out the buttons at the local LYS and have not yet made a decision to go forward with them or not. I still need to knit another gauge swatch. I have one on size 8s and I want to see one on 7s before I start the project.

This photo was taken in a makeshift light box and overall was the least successful for me, but it is also the technique I want to use at home the most. He showed us how to make a cheap light box at home with spending very little to no money. The lighting was a bit off for this version, but that would be very easy to correct at home. I'll post more about it once I gather the materials and put one together.

The project is a scarf knit from a skein of my hand spun yarn. It is a merino tencel blend. the scarf is working up quickly, so I expect to have the project complete (blocked and all) over the weekend. I have a new skein of hand spun to share on Friday and I'll have a Sherman and Scarlett update on Sunday.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Handspun Friday - Berry Pie

I've been wanting to knit another pair of hand knit socks, so I've been spinning three ply again. I love how this yarn turned out, but I don't think I really have enough yardage for a pair of socks, unless they are footies. So I'm not sure what I'll do with this yet.

This was the first time I've tried fiber from Bee Mice Elf on Etsy. The fiber was very nice and I loved the colors she used in dying the fiber. I'd definitely order from her again.

I got less yardage than I anticipated, so I decided to weight the finished yarn. I didn't think of weighing the fiber before spinning, but I don't see how spinning would change the actual weight. The weight of the finished yarn was less than the advertised weight of the fiber. I don't think that is necessarily a problem, but it is something I'm going to track. I have heard the fiber weighs less after the dying process. So it is possible the difference in weight occurred then.

I'm not singling this vendor out about fiber weight at all, but I think it will be worth it to check the weights in the future. It might help me anticipate yardage for future spinning projects better.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Fiber: Bee Mice Elf
Content: Superwash Merino
Fiber: combed top
Weight: 3.9 ounces (advertised) / 3.75 ounces (finished yarn)
Yardage: 216 yard
WPI: 16 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10to 1
Notes: 3 ply

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Different Noro Scarf

I had some Noro Silk Garden in my stash and was planning to knit another one of those really popular Noro striped scarves, like I knit for Brad. But then I saw the pattern for this scarf while I was browsing around on Ravelry and decided to try this one instead.

This pattern is accomplished using double knit and it is my first project using this technique. the double knitting wasn't difficult, but it is a little bit tedious. I was ready to work on another project after knitting four skeins. I did end up with a shorter scarf, but I love the thickness the double knitting created. It was a fun scarf to knit and I liked putting in the little inset squares at random places in the scarf.

I'd like to knit this scarf again. I think it would be nice to use one variegated yarn and one solid color to make the squares stand out even more; or even two solid colored yarns. I'd consider trying a lighter weight yarn too; maybe a sock weight yarn.

Project Info

Pattern: Vice Versa
by Laura Aylor
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden
2 skeins color # 255
2 skeins color # 292
Needles: addi TURBO US# 8 (5 mm)
Measurements: Length: 57"; Width 5.5"
Notes: No pattern modifications.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Handspun Friday - First Chain Plied Yarn

Well, I finally did it. I've chain plied yarn. I have to admit it was went much better than I anticipated. I should have just bit the bullet and done this a year ago. I'd be so much better at it by now. I do want to try this technique again and I can imagine that there would be times I'd really like to be able to create a chain plied yarn. But I do need practice, I have another 4 ounces of this fiber set aside for that practice.

To start this project, I began by spinning one long continuous single. I did everything like I normally do except I didn't strip the fiber lengthwise as many times as I normally do. By doing this I got longer color repeats than if I divided everything into many thin strips. You'd get the longest color repeats if you didn't divide the fiber lengthwise at all. The biggest change from my usual set up was the ratio I used for plying. I used my lowest ratio (5 to1) to slow things down and give my hands a chance to get used to the new movements. I found this video on YouTube to be the most helpful thing in getting started.

There were things I liked about chain plying and things I'm not too crazy about. I really saw two benefits to finishing singles this way. The first and best reason to do this is to keep color repeats together. You can see in this skein that I'll have some nice solid colored repeats instead of the barber pole type that is the result of a regular two or three ply yarn. The other benefit I saw, it that you get to spin one continuous thread for plying. That means no leftover singles from plying that you have to figure out what to do with.

I've seen many references that this technique is similar to crochet; I don't know how to crochet so I can't really offer an opinion on that. I do think the worst part is the little intersection between the loops that are used in the technique. You can feel the a little know at this point, but it is slight and I don't think you'd notice it all in the finished knit fabric. But they are kind of ugly. Especially if there is a color change at the intersection. I've also read that a chain plied yarn is not as strong as a true 3-ply. I don't know if that is true, but I do think there is something about a true 3-ply that is more satisfying to spin.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Fiber: All Spun Up
Content: Superwash Merino
Fiber: combed top
Weight: 4.4 ounces
Yardage: 212 yards
WPI: 10 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 5 to 1
Notes: first attempt at chain-plied yarn!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Swissy Sunday

It was a beautiful weekend here in North Carolina. So we made Sunday all about Sherman and Scarlett. We spent the morning at the bark park then we went to the pet store. We did have a few items to pick but the pups love going to Petsmart.

Once we got home, the crew took a nap and I made Peanut Oat Crunchies. These cookies are Sherman and Scarlett's favorite treats. They are easy to make and never last long, so I always make a double batch. I got the recipe online several years ago - but I do not know the source.

Peanut Oat Crunchies
1/4 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat bran
3-4 cups oat flour

In large saucepan combine honey, peanut butter, chicken broth, and peanut oil. Heat, stirring often, until mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat and stir in rolled oats and oat bran. Let mixture cool down to handle and gradually blend in oat flour to form a stiff dough. Transfer dough to floured surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or into small squares.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and turn over and bake for an additional 30 minutes. After all biscuits are baked spread them out in one baking pan and set them out to cool for a few hours or overnight.

I find that the cookies don't need to stay in the oven that long at all and the second baking usually only takes about 10 minutes. I use natural peanut butter that I grind at the grocery myself. It doesn't have sugar and salt - which is a lot better for the dogs and its cheaper too!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Handspun Friday - Primal

This is the latest addition to my growing collection of handspun yarn. I currently have to stored in a basket, but I think I'm going to need a bigger basket. I'm spinning the yarn much faster than I'm knitting.

I was please to get such a nice thick squishy yarn this time. It is somewhere between a worsted and bulky weight. It is nice and soft too.

The colors are nice a muted. This is the next to last yarn I started over my holiday vacation. Next week I'll be sharing my first attempt at chain plying.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Fiber: Flawfull FIbers
Content: Rambouillet
Color: Primal
Fiber Preparation: top
Weight: 3.9 oz
Yardage: 230 yards
WPI: 9-10 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10 to 1
Notes: hand wash; 2 ply

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fiber Club

The first rule of fiber club is you must spin the fiber from Fiber Club. I guess that's the most important thing about any club whether the shipment is yarn or fiber. If you don't use the shipments, you end up with a growing stash that can quickly get out of control. That's fine if you want a stash, but I think part of the fun of a club is seeing what everyone does with the same yarn or fiber, kind of like an informal knit along.

I've been a part of at least two different sock yarn clubs and I'm not going to count all the fiber clubs I've joined and quit. But now, I'm currently a part of four different fiber clubs. I thought I'd share a little bit about my current fiber club lineup and their latest shipments.

Up first is Hello Yarn. I joined the club back in February 2008 and like everything Hello Yarn - the club sells out quickly. You sign up for a three months/shipments at a time and pay upfront for all the shipments. After the three shipments are done, a new round opens and if you are a current member you get first chance at sign up and then the remaining slots are opened to everyone else. There is a waiting list for future open slots.

The usual club shipment is 4 ounces but I signed up to get a double does of fiber and my cost for the three month round starting in February was $120 including shipping. Color and fiber selection are a surprise every month too.

The selection I have pictured here is the December 2008 shipment. The color is called Night Sky and the fiber is Super wash Bluefaced Leicester. I have loved all the colors and fibers I've gotten from the club so far and look forward to the new round that starts this month, so my spot won't be open anytime soon. If you want to see more of the club fiber and creations, check out the Hello Yarn Fiber Club Flickr Group.

This fiber is from my membership in the Black Bunny Fiber Club. I'm currently in my second round. Each round consists of 3-4 shipments and payment is due before each shipment goes out and each shipment is spaced out by about 6 weeks. The shipments for this current round are being billed at just under $26.00 per shipment. I've always thought this club was a great value for the money.

One of the unique things about this club is that everyone gets the same fiber but a different color. The color is based on the answers to give in a questionnaire. Shipments usually consists of 6-8 ounces of fiber depending on the type of fiber selected.

This fiber was sent in January 2008 and it is a Cormo/corriedale cross. I've liked most of the shipments from this club. There has only been one shipment that I wasn't crazy about the color selection, but the fibers selections have been varied and interesting. We've gotten fibers like Wensleydale, Peruvian Merino, and a baby alpaca blend.

This fiber is the January shipment of the Spunky Eclectic - Spunky Club and my first shipment. I joined the club during the open sign ups in December. The club is paid for on a month by month basis so you can opt out at any time.

There were a tone of options available at sign up. You could get the minimum 2-4 ounce (depending on fiber selection) dose of fiber, a double dose of fiber, all the way up to a whopping pound of fiber. There were also several combinations of fiber and yarn that were available. I went with the double dose at $34. You can sign up now for the next shipment.

This fiber is organic merino and it is really soft. This color is called Twilight. It reminded me of a tie-dyed I got at a Grateful Dead concert one year. Both pieces of fiber in the photo are the same size - one is just wound up in a ball.

And last, but certainly not least is my first shipment from the FatCatKnits Mixed Blessing Fiber Club. The idea behind this club is there will be two colors in each shipment that are distinctively different, but coordinate. There was a four ounce and an eight ounce option. And if you couldn't guess, I signed up for the eight ounce option.

There is also a fiber goody with each shipment. Each round of the club is three shipments and paid for in full at the beginning. This round cost me $106 with shipping. The fiber types for the three shipments in this round were listed in the beginning; although the colors will be a surprise.

This month was some sparkly bling to add into the fiber as you spin or ply. The fiber itself is 60%merino and 40% bamboo. I've spun this blend before and loved it! I like the idea of the two colors as well. I'm still playing around with how I'll combine the two colors while spinning and plying. The fiber goody this month is some sparkly bling in colors that work well with the fiber. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the club incorporate everything.

This is probably more information than you ever wanted, but if you are interested in joining a fiber club I think any of these four would be a great place to start.