Spinning Tuesdays

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
closer!

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
closer!

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!

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.

Tiny weeny spindle

my Lilac-wood Turkish Delight

I have a weakness for spindles. Only one spinning wheel, but the spindle count is above 15. Not sure how much above 15.

I love that they’re portable, and I love the sculptural quality of the spindles I choose. My latest love was spotted across a crowded Silk Retreat room — it’s a Jenkins Turkish Delight.

I’ve been a staunch top-whorl girl since I learned to spindle. But this thing was so freaking cute, I couldn’t resist. Especially with yarn on it. You wind the yarn on over two arms, under one, and that gives a nice, plump square-shaped cop. At right, you see my little Turkish Delight, with the beginnings of a cop. It’s very lightweight, and so I’ll be spinning a laceweight that I’ll ply later. I’m in no hurry. I just like to play with it.

I thought it’d be hard to spin on, but it’s not. It spins long and fast, like a crazy rabbit on crack [this is a good thing], and is so very, very pretty.

Ed Jenkins makes every spindle by hand, and in this case, he made this one for me out of Lilac wood. Lilacs remind me of my Grandma, and I couldn’t choose anything else. I love that there’s a little vein of natural purple running through one of the crossbars, too.

Here’s a video with instructions on how to wind onto this spindle, via the lovely Mrs Jenkins, Wanda.

The tiny Turkish Delight too big for you? Go peek at Ed’s newest invention, the Kuchulu. Not sure how long I’ll be able to resist this one. Should I even try?

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.

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!

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.

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.

Starting the year off with yarn & a giveaway!

Remember I was going to spin some Southern Cross Fibre BFL and Merino?

Well I did:

BFL left - it's a little hairy, and Merino right

Then I did some plying:

This marl I like!

I couldn’t wait to see what these two would look like as a piled yarn. I spun and plied most of this over 3 days – I actually woke up with sore calves in the morning! I love these colors together, and yes, they even marl in some places. I’m not usually a fan of marled yarn.

It’s about 500 yards, 15 wpi. I spun the singles woolen and piled it to balance, because I wanted a softer yarn to be knit into something where abrasion/piling won’t be an issue and that needs drape, this shawl – Annis.

I really enjoyed the thinking about the structure of handspun yarn and how it presents itself in knitting. More please.

How about a contest to kick off our spinning year?!

A $30 Gift Certificate to any store at The Fiber Cooperative!

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, January 5, 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.

Good luck and happy spinning!

Dreaming about 2011

Lustrous locks

I am a list maker. I love making lists. This time of the year I carry a little notebook and dream of all of things I might do in the next 365 days or so.

Occasionally, I look back at the last year and take stock of what I learned.

In my spinning life in 2010 the biggies for me were:

  • Learning to spin fat yarn
  • Learning to spin art yarn
  • And it really, finally, hit home for me about how important and varied sheep breeds are, and how lucky we are to have so many to spin with.

For 2011 my big three (so far) are:

  • Knitting with handspun. I find handspun yarn so different than millspun yarn — it has a liveliness and feistiness that I adore. How do you knit it to its best advantage? What about the stitches used? What about the different breeds?
  • Travel for spinning. Gotta go this year and I want it to be a big one. Maybe SOAR, or Rhinebeck or Taos.
  • Color. I want color to click in my brain this year, and my brain likes to fight this one. Good thing The Spinning Loft is bringing Deb Menz to town.

What are on your lists? What did you accomplish in 2010? What are you dreaming about for 2011?

How Do You Choose?

Southern Cross Fibre Club December 2010 Superwash BFL

When you find yourself with an empty wheel how do you choose what to spin next?

I was recently faced with this dilemma, and instead of just grabbing something I went through the choosing more methodically.

I didn’t have any have to spinning, my work and gift spinning are all done.

I didn’t want to do any should do spinning, practicing techniques or sampling breeds.

I have no projects that I specifically want to spin for.

Leaving me wide open to choose. I roamed my stash; friends offered suggestions that I loved: your oldest stashed fiber, a color or fiber you hate or love, a forbidden too special to spin fiber, a fiber with a great memory or story associated with it, something you dyed yourself. You can see why I love my spinning friends.

Then the mail came.

I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Southern Cross Fibre Club this year, and my first shipment came. Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising, you can see it above. I felt like the knitting fates (and my mail carrier – I had to sign for it, making it extra special) handed me my answer.

Then my brain started tick, ticking. I have some other Southern Cross fiber that was in the forbidden, too special to spin category because David’s beautiful fiber is so popular, it’s hard to get. But now, since I’ll be getting fiber every month the too special grip has loosened.

Here’s what I decided. A fine-ish 2-ply, for me, that’s probably DK. One ply Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising (my first club fiber) and one ply Superwash Merino in the color Katoomba (from my stash).

The mingling of Southern Cross Fibre beauty

How do you choose what to spin next?