Spinning Tuesday: Making your fiber go farther by marling on purpose

I’m still thinking about marling, but now I’m marling for a purpose.

More often than not I buy my fiber in 4oz increments, especially when I don’t know what I’ll make with it. Then comes the time when I pull it out to spin a 2-ply with it, and I want more yardage than 4 oz can get me.

What’s a spinner to do? This spinner stretches fiber by marling on purpose.

When I have fiber that has  colors I love, I marl with a natural color, it makes a variation on the colorway.

When I have I fiber whose color combo no longer makes me sing, I marl with a second color or colorway to create a new visually complex colorway. I love playing with both of these techniques, they are full of surprises.

Today I’m playing with making a two ply yarn using a natural color fiber as one ply to make a variegated top or roving go farther yardage-wise.

I pulled a variety fibers I have that: I like the colorway, I wish I had more, and I want to make a two ply yarn out of.

Remember that plying with another color, even a natural will make a variation on the original colorway. If you are in big love with a colorway and don’t want to change it one little bit – this is not the playtime experiment for that fiber.

Why didn't I buy more?

There’s some Briar Rose, Spunky Eclectic, Abstract Fiber and Fiber Story, all I think are gorgeous.

I also pulled undyed fiber in a variety of colors


Pretty, pretty fiber flower


I’m going to start with the Briar Rose fiber. How do I choose which natural would work with it?


Compare and contrast

I compare them visually. What do I think would blend best with the colors in the Briar Rose? I keep in mind that the bigger the contrast between the Briar Rose and the natural I choose makes the type of candy cane marled yarn that I don’t like. I like my marl more blended.

If I’m having trouble choosing, or am just too giddy with possibilities I take a picture and look at the choices in black and white.


This is what Michigan looks like in the winter

For me it’s easier to see what is closer to matching my dyed fiber when I take the color away. For me it’s the middle brown on the right (about 3:00, if the wheel of fiber was a clock), and an oatmeal brown (about 11:00). I’m curious about the striped roving (1:00) but not enough to sample.


Two browns to sample

There is no right or wrong choice, it all about what you like. The possibilities are endless and limited only by how much you are willing to sample.


Mid-brown and oatmeal, can you tell which one I didn't like?

Here are the yarns that came from the middle brown and the oatmeal plied with the Briar Rose. I didn’t like the look of the oatmeal when I was plying, my brain started yelling, ‘barber pole, barber pole”, so I stopped.

But when I knit the lighter sample


yummy oatmeal

I liked it quite a bit.

Here’s the darker which I like too.


This is the yarn equivalent of drinking stout

But when I put them together, there was a clear winner for me.


Which wins for you?

I love the darker version, but I like the lighter swatch so much more than I liked the yarn.

I love how the original colorway is in there, close but not exactly, more like kissing cousins.

This makes me want to try more combinations, especially ones that I’m not quite sure of. I’ll be working with the other brighter colors next, seeing what happens when they are plied with natural colors.

If you’re going to try this at home remember to go with your instinct, try at least two naturals with your variegated fiber, and maybe a third that you are sure won’t work. Just see what happens, you’ll be surprised, I always am and that’s exactly what keeps me playing with fiber.

*Spread the joy!*

Monday Knitting: What’s on our needles, plus a winner!

Winner winner chicken dinner! [snicker] Who was the lucky winner of Friday’s huge contest? Lynne, who wrote, “I just gave my friend the book titled The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman. This book was a well written mystery, involving greek mythology, classic literature and art. My friend loved it! (I did too, of course.) Would highly recommend.” Congrats to Lynne, and thanks again to everyone who participated last week!

it's growing! how many scoops is this?

Amy‘s just finished Annette, and is really happy with it. It was a long slog that started on a whim last August, when — somehow — she cast on the wrong size, two sizes too large. Not noticing this until she got near the sleeve section [aka 2/3 finished], she ripped it with the encouragement of her fellow knitters at The Purple Purl and re-cast on right then for the correct size. It was a demoralizing turn, and after chugging away on it blindly for as long as she could stand it, she put it aside for a few months.

Picking it up again in January, she realized she wasn’t that far from getting to the sleeves, and with a little concerted effort, it was done in a matter of weeks. Pictures to come…it still needs buttons.

Moral: sometimes the knitting needs a break. Sometimes it’s the knitter. Just don’t give up permanently unless there’s a good reason to.

The Calmer Leftovers vest [aka the ice cream sweater — see pic above left] is coming along well and underarm shaping will soon be achieved. Amy does not want to think about the weaving in of ends that will be required. There’s no spit splicing without wool, you know.

Jillian’s knitting another Thorpe hat. This time out of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Bulky, color Carrot. She says, “It’s my first time knitting with this yarn, it’s fabulously soft and squishy.  I want more. None of my local yarn shops carry it –anyone online carry it?”

Soft, squishy and carroty!

Kate‘s working on Project Black Sock:

Bad for the eyes, good for the feet.

As an inveterate sock knitter with a passion for interesting sock yarns, I have a drawer-full of bright colored, insanely striped and wildly variegated socks.

But sometimes a girl needs a pair of dark, sensible socks.

For some years, my sock drawer has been divided into two sections: handknit, and black socks. All the black socks were commercially made.

My favorite black socks are wearing out, so I’ve decided that the other side of the sock drawer should also be filled with hand-knit socks. Hence: Project Black Sock. I’ve been quietly collecting black sock yarn, and this winter I started knitting in earnest.

I’ve already got a pair in Shibui Knits sock yarn, a pair of Socks That Rock in one of the colors from the Raven clan, a pair in some mostly black tweed I found in the bargain bin at one of my LYSs, and a pair in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (really warm and wonderful).

Up next: 3 more pairs of the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (because it is so warm and my feet get so very cold), a pair in Koigu, a pair in Regia, a pair in Paton’s Kroy, a pair in Briggs & Little Durasport, a pair in KnitPicks, another Socks That Rock pair, the TARDIS colorway from IndigoDragonfly, and an odd ball of a Regia grey and black variegated number that will work nicely with black heels, cuffs and toes. If a sock yarn comes in black (or very dark grey, or some interesting variegated black/grey/midnight blue mix), I want it, and I will knit a pair of socks in it.

Crazy? Maybe. Ask my optometrist in a year’s time! But by then I won’t have a single pair of machine-made socks in my drawer.

*Spread the joy!*

Spinning Tuesday: Knitting Marls & Our Mitten Winner

The winner of the Shelburne Mittens kit is comment number 1125, Lisa S!

Thank you to the lovely folks at Rowan Yarn and Westminster Fibers for donating this prize.


Now for some spinning. As requested, the marled yarns knit into swatches.

First the blue and white:

3 weights of marling -yarn

3 weights of marling - knit


Like the yarn, the fatter the original yarn the marl in the knitted fabric is more pronounced.

In the finest sample it looks like flecks.


How about the blue and green yarn:

3 weights of blue/green marl

3 weights blue/green marl - knit


I wish I had spun larger samples of these, but I do like how the colors blend even more when the yarn is knit. There is striping and pooling, but it’s interesting to me.

Thank you for asking me to knit my samples, I like the marl more as knit fabric than just yarn. Time for more experiments!

*Spread the joy!*

Spinning Tuesday: What I’ve noticed about marling

Barber pole, peppermint stick, marl are all used to describe a type of yarn that has two high-contrast singles plied together. It’s a type of yarn I really don’t care for.

Though I have recently made marled yarns with less contrast that I’ve really liked. I’ve also noticed the weight of the yarn makes a difference in the marling.

So I’ve been experimenting, want to see?

Lovely blue and white Romney

I started with high contrast blue and white Romney, spun and plied to three different weights: bulky, worsted and DK/fingering.

3 weights of marling

Here’s what I see, as the yarn gets thinner and the twists per inch number gets higher, the colors blend more, which I like, even at a high color contrast.

Merino dyed last summer

I tried the same experiment with some fiber I dyed last summer, that was blue, green, yellow and white – much less contrast. I spun and plied it on itself, deliberately getting it to marl.

3 weights of blue/green marl

Still stripey, but even more visually pleasant to me even at the bulky weight, because of how the colors work together.

Both colorways all weights

Here are both color/weight experiments side by side.

Now I am thinking about how to use marling to blend colors, to get certain colors to pop, and to make a deep and rich colored yarn, and about what color combination or characteristics work best at each weight.

I kind of knew this would send me into a thinking and experimenting spiral. I love that about spinning.

*Spread the joy!*

What’s on our needles, a winner and a new giveaway!

It seems our needles are laden with socks at Knitty. Here’s what we’re knitting right now:

Jillian is knitting 2 socks on 2 circular needles in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport:

Colorway: Rockwell. Please don't notice the boo-boos from knitting in a movie yesterday.

On Kate’s needles: two pairs of socks for spring.


There’s the Knit Picks’ “Time Traveller” colorway – a limited edition from last fall inspired by our favorite Time Traveller, The Doctor .

But which Doctor, 10 or 11?

And a pair of socks in just about the loudest yarn imaginable: Filatura di Crosa Maxime Print in a “citrus circus insanity” (or something). Kate’s working them both at the same time on dpns, using the War & Peace inspired method. “I love this method – it guarantees no second sock syndrome, and lots and lots of amazed gasps from other sock knitters.”

Amaze your friends! Two socks in one!

Amy’s working on her Leftovers vest in Rowan Calmer…the first time she’s had the pleasure of making a sweater with this lovely stuff.


yes, everyone's already told me it looks like ice cream. they're right.

She managed to score closeouts on Calmer at the legendary home of such things, Colourway, when her friend Brenda casually mentioned it was near the train station in town. There was much plotzing and the yarn score ensued. Enough for a stripy vest for £20. I know!

For insurance, and because she’s like that, she added another ball of [discontinued! who discontinues black??] black and one of super-pale pink, recommended personally by the goddess of color, Barbara Gregory, once she got back Canada-side.

Our winner of one large and one small HiyaHiya Interchangeable Needle sets is comment #1779: Patricia Congratulations, and happy knitting!


A bunch of Knitty readers got hit by another winter storm last night. Jillian got 8″ of snow, after having two days in the 50’s F last week.

To help ease the pain of more winter weather we’re having a giveaway!

How about a kit to knit the 3 pairs of the Shelburne Mittens in our latest issue?

Cozy mittens for the family!

If chosen, one person will win enough Rowan Felted Tweed Chunky to make 3 pairs of mittens [7 skeins]

This prize is courtesy of the lovely folks at Rowan Yarn and Westminster Fibers.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, February 23, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Prize value: $79.60

Good luck, good knitting and keep warm if you’re snowy!

*Spread the joy!*

Spinning Tuesday: Annis is Finished!

Don’t faint, but I’ve finished something else.

My handspun Annis:

Annis in the snow

I started spinning for this January 1 and have the shawl blocked and finished February 1. I still can’t believe that I worked on a project from start to finish, until it was done. No sidetracks (well, not many), no timeouts.

Handspun from Southern Cross Fibre

I spun yarn that was almost DK, so the shawl is larger than the original, but that’s what I wanted.

The spectacular thing about spinning your own yarn is that you can make exactly what you want, by blending color and fibers, and by the way you spin your yarn.

Annis swooping

I wanted my version of Annis to be a littler larger, so I made my yarn a little fatter. I wanted my Annis to be lighter rather than drapier, so I did two things: I spun my yarn woolen, letting in as much air as fiber to make a lofty yarn and I piled it to be just balanced, if not a little under plied, to cut down on the density of the finished yarn.

Now I love nupps

I am absolutely transfixed by the magic of spinning yarns, by how many different yarns I could make just altering spin and ply, and by how it makes my knitting come alive.

*Spread the joy!*

Knitting Monday: What’s On Our Needles and a Giveaway!

It’s Jillian and I’m on a finishing kick.

Monkey see, monkey do

I finally finished my Monkey socks. My first pair of sock knit two at a time on two circular needles. I love the technique, a little fiddly at first, but then smooth sailing.

I’m really hoping it will help me knit more socks because I have a chronic case of single sock syndrome.

I’m going to try a pair of toe up socks next. I would love pattern recommendations for a first time toe up sock knitter.

I used Dream in Color Smooshy in Chinatown Apple. The sock blockers up there are from Signature Needle Arts. Yes, the magical needle people.

We have a giveaway today!

One lucky blog commenter will win:

The stylin' LJ Kaelms bag by Jordana Paige

A LJ Kaelms bag by Jordana Paige in your choice of color.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, February 2, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a  skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Prize value: $89.00.

Good luck and good knitting!

*Spread the joy!*

Spinning: Annis and Nupp Knitting

I’m not quite done knitting Annis, but it’s still gorgeous, even unblocked:

Nupp rhymes with stoop not shtupp.

I almost didn’t choose Annis to knit because it has nupps. I have issues with nupps; I love how they look and hate to knit them and this patterns has 7-stitch nupps.

So I went trolling the wonderful world of the web and found an amazing technique by Myra Wood. She calls it Easy Peasy Nupp, In fact,it’s so easy it saved this pattern for me, and tranformed my thinking about knitting nupps. No lie!

Brilliant isn’t it? I like it because it’s easy, but also because you can choose the size of nupp you want. I’m a girl who likes a big nupp, so I used a bigger hook than my knitting needle. It worked beautifully.

Next week I’ll show you finished and blocked Annis in all her handspun glory.

Meanwhile try out that nupp technique already!

*Spread the joy!*

Spinning: The Woolen and the Worsted

This past Saturday my spinning group took a field trip to The Spinning Loft.

One of our group of our group is in the market for a new wheel, so we piled 6 spinning women into an SUV big enough to hold 4 Schacht Matchlesses in the way back. We may have sung the Partridge Family theme.

Surprisingly, our wheel shopper isn't buying a Matchless.

While our wheel shopping spin sister tried wheels the rest of us shopped and spun.

I feel deeply in love with this Yarn Hollow roving, 50% Cormo/50% Alpaca.

You cannot deny my love.

My question to the room was – how would you spin it, woolen or worsted?

The room answered, annoyingly, with another question, “What will you make with it?”. I have no idea. I’ve just hit first base with this fiber, I’m not ready to commit.

So I sampled. Yes, you heard me right, I did what the books and teachers all recommend, sampled. They are very wee samples, but samples all the same.

Boy are they different:

Woolen on the left; worsted on the right.

The samples were spun from a short length of fiber that I split vertically, so I was working with the same colors on both. They are both soft, but the woolen spun on the left is lofty and puffy, and softer than the worsted spun. It brings out the best qualities of the Cormo. The worsted spun is smoother, shiny and has a heavier, drapey hand. The colors are darker. It looks and feels more like the alpaca part of the fiber equation.

I like them both, and of course, the wee samples raised more questions, among them: What type of stitches would I use, both lace and texture would look crispy and shiny-fabulous in the worsted. But the woolen would give them a soft almost blurry look.

I decided to spin the fiber woolen. I like the soft look right now and I can spin woolen much faster than worsted. I also decided that I will sample more often.

Our wheel shopping spin sister decided on Majacraft Suzie.

*Spread the joy!*

Spinning: A Winner Plus a Little Something That Makes Me Smile

Our winner of a $30 Gift Certificate to any store at The Fiber Cooperative is comment number 29 – Betsy M.

Hooray! Happy spinning Betsy!

Some days all I need is just a little something to make me smile. I love color and I try to infuse as much as I can into every nook and cranny of my day.

Take spinning leaders, for example.

What else will you do with your leftovers?

I use leftover sock yarn as my spinning leaders. It works wonderfully and it’s all kinds of colorful. The bobbins above are strung with Koigu, aren’t they fun? Just what I need on a gray winter day.

*Spread the joy!*