Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bobbin Clearing

Knot My Day Job and Natchwoolie woolen spun yarns

Well, we are getting down to the wire with Tour de Fleece a mere 4 days away. Yay! Time to get those bobbins cleared!

Remember the Romney rolags I hand carded from the Natchwoolie club? Here's the yarn.

Natchwoolie Steady Dye It Club - April 2010 - Rose Wine

Pretty pictures, but what you don't see is all the 'faults'. I'll fess up right now. I can be a real miserly type and just hate 'wasting' fiber. Ha. Joke's on me, because in the end, the little junky short cuts and bits should have been discarded with ruthless abandon before getting near my hand cards. Instead, they ended up in the rolags and I now have neppy, lumpy yarn.

Natchwoolie Steady Dye It Club - April 2010 - Rose Wine

Plus I'm still getting the hang of the long draw. And to top it all off, I over plied, something I did on both yarns presented here. Note to self - ease up on the plying, yo!

Natchwoolie Steady Dye It Club - April  2010 - Rose Wine

The result is very rustic, and a bit scratchy. In fairness, the fiber was sort of scratchy to begin with. Sensitive types will not enjoy this yarn. It will take some thinking to figure out what to do with it, but I am glad I spun it for no other reason than it serves as an object lesson for me. The biggest lesson: be absolutely ruthless about what goes onto the hand cards. Garbage in, garbage out. And slow down the treadling on the ply, girl!

Technical details: 218 yds., Aran weight, woolen spun (mostly), 2 ply from 4 oz. of natural dyed Romney locks and hand carded into rolags.

Knot My Day Job Tweed and Sparkle

The second yarn off the bobbins is this tweedy mix. Maybe you remember me trying to seduce all you spinners out there to head over to Knot My Day Job on esty back in January.

Knot My Day Job Tweed and Sparkle

I loved spinning this batt and learned alot while making this yarn. It was fun tearing off sections and just spinning in a carefree long draw. This is the one where long draw finally clicked.

So here's what went into the making of the batt: hand dyed Merino, Alpaca, Silk (Bombyx), wool neps, faux cashmere and Angelina for the sparkle! The batt was so sexy I had a mad crush the minute I spotted it. Still do! I call this yarn Tweed and Sparkle. It reminds me of a country girl who thinks she needs to punk it out a bit upon arrival in the big city. Sparkle and shine!

Knot My Day Job Tweed and Sparkle

It's over plied like the first yarn but not as much. Considering the span of 4 months between start and finish, I am pleased with the semi-consistency. Again, a woolen spun which takes practice!

Technical details: Approximately 240 yds, mostly Aran weight, from 5 oz of fiber, spun woolen, 2 ply from a carded batt. Lovely stuff. And best of all, I have another batt to practice on, after the Tour!

Knot My Day Job Tweed and Sparkle

Stay tuned, one more yarn before the big event!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mid June Progress

Thank you everyone, for your concern and suggestions on how to heal my hands! They are doing better. In an attempt to do things other than knitting, I went horse back riding a few weeks ago. Fun, but really hard on the wrists! Ooops.

Those of you who are riders will surely see many things wrong in my form, but considering I haven't been riding in over 20 years, I was amazed I could stay on the horse, post a trot and keep him moving. Tonka is half draft horse and I really like how solid he feels and how nicely he moves! If my hands can stand it, it might be killer fun to work with this guy, doing a bit of basic Dressage training, something we could learn together.

In the meantime, I bought a brace for my right hand and wearing that for a few days really helped. The pain and numbness is mostly in the thumb. I'm trying to knit without putting too much pressure on the right thumb, which is sometimes rather comical and all the time awkward feeling. Mostly I knit in much smaller bursts.

So that sweater I'm making? It's moving along very slowly (13 inches of the body and nearly one full sleeve completed). All my other knitting projects are just not happening right now. There is some crochet, a small project that takes little time and doesn't put too much strain on my hands.

Coasters WIP

These coasters are going to be a set of six, intended as a house gift for my boss later this summer.

I am spinning. Thankfully I am able to do that in slightly bigger bursts, and if I use a long draw, then things move along quite nicely. I'm trying to fill up and then clear off all my bobbins before the big July event, Le Tour de Fleece.

Hello Yarn - Parritch - 3 Ply

This bobbin set contains the Hello Yarn Targhee in the Parritch colorway As you can see it will be 3 ply when I put the jumbo flyer on the wheel. I loved spinning this fiber, though because I was doing a worsted draw, it caused me some pain, thus it took a little longer to reach this stage. I wanted to really control the gauge on these singles in order to achieve a nice, well rounded yarn. So far, so good.

Knot My Day Job - progress

This bobbin contains half of the Knot My Day Job red batt that I started back in January. I got distracted, took the bobbin off the wheel and then forgot about it. Now I want to finish it! Of course, I don't have a sample nor any notes so when I put it back on the wheel I had no recollection on how to set my whorl and brake band. Oh well, I decided to go with what I wanted now, so 2/3 of this bobbin are heavier singles than the first 1/3. I'm doing a supported long draw and moving rather quickly, as it doesn't strain my right wrist as much. The second bobbin is well underway; it won't be long before we see how this yarn turns out.

Rolags close up

But before I put the jumbo flyer on and start plying, I want to fill up one more set of bobbins. These wonderful rolags are from 4 oz. of Romney locks dyed using wonderful natural dyes in pinks and magentas. The fiber comes from one of my newer clubs, and one I haven't discussed on this blog to date. This is the April offering from Natchwoolie Steady Dye It club. Six months of dyed fibers and rovings using all natural dyes.

Natchwoolie Steady Dye It Club - April 2010 - Rose Wine, Romney Fleece

Most of the club shipments have been Merino, either top or roving. This one was locks and it was intriguing to me. It necessitated buying hand carders to process. In about a month's time I carded up the locks into a lovely pile of rolags. I found carding to be a pleasant chore, unlike combing which for some reason I do not relish in the same way.

Romney Rolags

All of this needs to be finished before July 3, the start of the Tour de Fleece. I have my fibers selected and I have an idea on how I will spin most of them. Maybe I can find some time later this week to show you what I want to do.

In the meantime, I want to get outside and enjoy the 7th Avenue Street Fair. Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Back in April I grew weary of all the gift knitting and needed something for me. The PhotoMan was out of town, and I devoted the down time to knitting this as quickly as I could. I wanted to get some wearing time before the weather turned too warm.

Turk Almonds

But knitting with this yarn (Classic Elite Soft Linen) made my hands feel strange. After about 30 minutes I felt like I needed hand cream and the texture would skeeve me out a bit.

Still, I like the way this scarf turned out - the pattern is Butternut Scarf by Anne Hanson. I used up all 3 skeins in the making, so yay for more stash burning.

Turk Almonds4

I actually think this project may have caused some nerve damage, because it's been hard to knit ever since. I have a strange numbness in my palms and fingers, things are tingly and heavy. It became apparent that the culmination of constant knitting for four solid years has affected my hands.

And so, I've forced myself to simply stop. I haven't knit in nearly two weeks. And I am barely spinning right now - just a bit on the spindle and a few minutes a day on the wheel. For me, a huge break in the routine. It's a bit maddening, and although it makes me feel a bit lost, it is forcing me to find new ways to fill my time.

Turk Almonds5

The good news is it appears to be helping, because the numbness is easing up a bit. A forced moratorium isn't a bad thing. It may mean less frequent visits to this blog, too. And less time on the computer in general.

I'm going to take the summer to reflect on all of it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Sprout 2

No drama, no issues. Just a nice, pleasant spin project with pleasing results. Sprout, from Southern Cross Fibres, the September 2009 club offering. This is a nice mix of fibers - 80% Polwarth (which the spinning world is currently bonkers over) and 20% Tussah Silk.

I didn't think I'd be able to control this fiber because of the silk, but it worked fine. I took my time, used a worsted draw, and ended up with 342 yards of Fingering weight yarn.


I see something incorporating a Feather and Fan motif for this one, what do you think?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



A work in progress - Fog Sweater, using Cascade Eco Wool. The yarn was purchased for this project over a year ago. As many of you knitters know, these skeins are huge, - 8 oz of yarn per skein so four of them nearly fill a storage bin and weigh 2 lbs! Converting the stored yarn into a garment will take a big bite out of storage space!

This pattern is knit in the round which is great in that the front and back will be done up to the arm pits but as the knitting grows, so it grows in weight. The weight, combined with 1x1 rib strains my wrists and I need to take frequent breaks. I imagine by the time we get to the shoulders this thing will slow down considerably simply because of the physical effort required.

You can see it started as a much larger garment but I quickly realized it was way way way too big. This happened about two weeks ago on a Sunday evening, halfway through an episode of "Treme", on HBO. It went like this: "Honey, I think this sweater may be a bit big on you. Do you mind trying it on if I take this off the needles and put it on a lifeline?" "Do I have to? It's going to be hot! " "It's four inches of knitting. How hot can that be?"

Thirty minutes later we had the verdict and I went to bed. Defeated and relieved. An entire weekend of knitting wasted, but relieved the newer version would take less time because there will be fewer stitches to knit!

I used a cable cast on, which when putting 240 stitches onto a needle makes sense to me, rather than trying to estimate the length required for a long tail cast on. And it works well for ribbing, this is a 4x2 ribbed edge.


Now I want to talk about something that's really bugging me about my knitting. These ridges? Do you see them? I noticed them when I knit the little baby bolero, and chalked it up to the yarn, which is a very fine merino cable ply yarn that looks like a single but is actually lots of teeny tiny 2 ply yarns twisted into a single ply. The next time it showed up was when I knit one of the pairs of fingerless mitts, and again, I thought it was the yarn, because that yarn has a similar put up. But it's coming up again, in this sweater.

And this project uses a woolen spun two ply, Cascade Eco Wool. My experience with this yarn goes back to last summer when I knit the ill-fated Garter Ridge Blanket. I hated the way the project looked and abandoned it after knitting all the sections. I don't know about you, but I find Garter Stitch to be very unforgiving, showing all manner of tension flaws. And this yarn is also unforgiving in terms of tension irregularities. Which made the combination of the two just awful!


Which leads me to realize that it's me. I am doing something in the knitting to cause these problems! I think I am tugging the stitches when moving from knit to purl. Anyway it's bugging the shit out of me! Each time I look at this project it's all I see.

These kinds of technical flaws are a sure fire way to kill my enthusiasm for a project and I have to work hard to overcome my nagging doubts. Should I rip it down and start the body section over again? Should I learn to knit English style? Would that improve the appearance? Is this issue simply an unintended consequence of knitting 1x1 rib with a woolen spun yarn?

Yes, I swatched. This problem wasn't evident in the swatch. I have an idea: maybe I should stop here, go knit up a sleeve and block it to see if the washing will ease out the issues. And use the sleeve as a guide for how this honkin' huge man sized body will work up once it's been blocked.

Well, then, thank you! I think I've come up with a trial solution, now that I've thought it through a bit, so thanks for listening.