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Posts Tagged ‘spinning’

I completed the first of my masochistic knitting projects.  Setzer by Brooklyn Tweed in the flannel colorway. It’s a cowl and worked in the round with short rows.

setzer cowl brooklyn tweed shelter yarn

I liked the lines of this cowl and was intrigued with doing short rows in the round. Basically anything with short rows interests me but doing it in the round would surly add to the masochistic nature of the project. And it did: wonderfully.

I ripped back a total of three times. Continually getting turned around on the second set of short rows. As I always tell myself in these circumstances: “Read the instructions carefully.” Don’t just read them and plug in your assumptions of what they are not specifically saying. Read and follow what is written and that which is not written will become clear at some point before madness strikes. It usually works out fine.

I would definitely make another one of these only I’d alter it to sit closer to the neck and allowed to be pulled over the nose and mouth if needed.

Up on the needles now are the “infernal” socks. These have been being knitted for years and are truly masochistic knitting. They don’t have short rows but the pattern of lace roses is quite the challenge. I’ve already changed the ssk to skp, and altered the way I knit the purl stitch that immediately follows the yarn over in two rows. Which means on the following rows I need to remember I did a different kind of purl stitch and need to reseat the yos all the while counting decreases and remembering what row I am on. In short, they are not mindless knitting. I have never used a life line for a sock but for this one it is a must. I couldn’t bear having to rip them back and begin again. That would be padded cell time for me.

As if all this is not enough knitting pressure I have spun and set the twist on the yarn for the knitted dress that is as small as a match stick. I am ordering the size US 000000 needles today. They are not much thicker than a sewing needle. It should be interesting.

On the spinning front I have some corriedale I want to spin into sock yarn (LOL). The difference between merino fiber and corriedale is the same as soft fluff and iron. I will be trying to figure out how to handle the corriedale and then give it a go on my spindle. In the meantime I have developed a slight hankering for a spinning wheel. Who knew a spinning wheel could cost the same as a down payment on a house? Further there is a long list of maintenance that needs to be done on a wheel where as my spindle I just pick up and twirl. I must stop eyeing spinning wheels on the computer, though one by Schacht has caught my eye. I am now going to wrestle with the corriedale.

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For all the joys of fiber work perhaps this is the most joyous of all. Go from raw fleece to a finished knit dress all in one day! Slow down my rapidly beating fiber heart.

First start with raw fleece. In order to pick out 100%  of the absolutely best fibers for this project lay out the entire fleece on the floor in the shape of the sheep. Select a small amount of fiber that has neither too much, nor too little crimp, is neither too close to the sunburned tips, nor too close to the butt. Make sure you know the orientation of your selected bit of fiber. It should go from tips to butt without including either of those things. Remember, we only need a thimble full of fleece.

Take down a measuring cup and fill it with hot water and a tiny, tiny dab of soap. Gently swish your little bit of fiber in the water by slipping in one end. Remove. Then slip the other end in. Remove the fiber and gently wring squeeze all water out of it. Let it dry by lightly swinging it through the air.

If you are arthritic, please take your arthritis medicine now.

Once dry use either a dog or cat flicker brush and with quick wrist snapping motions open the lock of fiber. Next get out your spindle and spin 1, 200 yards (1097 meters) of very, very, very thin thread the type of which even a spider would envy. Wrap your new thread into a teeny-tiny ball.

With 000000 # needles….ooh! Don’t have those? Not to worry. Take 4 match sticks. Don’t cheat and use the long ones for lighting fireplaces. With regular match sticks and a sharp razor blade gently plane them until they are round. Carefully remove match head while doing this. These are your knitting needles.

Now you are ready to knit this dress, with waist shaping:

tiny knit dress by jessie driscoll

While I am poking fun at magazine writing above, this is an actual tiny knit dress by the talented Jessie Driscoll. The pattern, yes there is a real pattern, can be found in Ply  Magazine

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Spin the Tail of the Dog

It was bound to happen. Only a matter of time really until I caught up Yarn Rascal’s tail in my spinning fiber.

yarn rascal tail and unspun fiber

Can you tell which is the tail and which is the fiber? Yes his tail (on the right) has very nearly the same consistency as unspun merino fiber. In fact his nickname is Woolly Bear because his hair all over his body is like sheep wool in consistency. He must be brushed and combed out every day between full grooming sessions (much to his dismay).

Yarn Rascal sits right next to me hip-to-hip when I am spinning. He has earned the title of Spinning Manager. After all, everything I’ve spun so far has gone to him, so he thinks it’s his from start to finish.

While I try to keep the fiber wrapped around my wrist when spinning I don’t always succeed because I become quite hot and the hand holding the fiber starts to sweat. (If you are ever cold just wrap fiber around your wrists and neck–don’t even ask about how I know the neck thing– and you will heat up very quickly.) When my hand becomes over heated I unwrap the fiber from my wrist and let it lay by my side on top of Yarn Rascal and his tail.

Yarn Rascal is a sunny personality guy. If his eyes are open there’s a good chance his tail is wagging. Because the consistency of the fiber and his tail are so similar the fiber grabs onto it and becomes one with the tail. The first few times I didn’t catch the melding of the two quickly enough and Yarn Rascal was beside himself with delight (excessive, over-the-top tail wagging) as both the fiber and his tail raised together toward my hand to be spun. I was not over the edge with delight over this. It meant spinning was finished until I detached fiber and tail, then brushed his tail to make sure I had gotten all the fiber out of it.

In addition to spinning, I’ve just completed a large shawl that I want to rave about in my next post. I have also been knitting a cowl that I have now ripped back twice. It includes short rows in its design and I’ve gotten myself lost twice now. I think I’ve worked out how not to mess up this next time but it is starting to feel like one of my masochistic knitting projects.

Tomorrow is oral surgery so I should be out of things for the entire day.

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My anxiety level is at the high end of the spectrum. The cats’ health, my parents’ health, my cancer check up tomorrow all keep the needle pinned at the critical end of the anxiety gauge.

So I had my hairdresser shave my head. I didn’t shave it bald, but very close. The kind of close you see some models wearing. It was liberating. I can’t tell you how relieved I am not to have to fuss with it every morning. But now I need winter hats. So I’ve found a pattern and bought the yarn. I also found a cowl and bought both the pattern and the yarn. These two are in addition to the summer sweater pattern and yarn I bought to confuse the knitting gods that be into bringing on autumn. (I tell you if I could be hooked up to some electrodes my anxiety would power New York City for a week.)

I don’t need any of these extra knitting projects. I have enough WIPs laying around to occupy me. There’s the infernal sock, the I-don’t-need-another-shawl, a scarf made of yarn I hate, and the why couldn’t I just have followed the pattern scarf that I am now trying to figure out the number of short-rows needed to finish it.

On top of all this The Skipper just informed me his sister is coming tomorrow and is staying 3 or 4 days. She lives in Maryland. The house is a disaster area. It’s going to remain a disaster unless a tornado whips itself up and carries away all the things that are laying around where they are not supposed to be and just leaves behind bare walls.

Oh by the way I did this at two am this morning:

hand spun merino

35 yards. I still need a lot of practice but it is at least something.

 

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Even though it has been hot and humid beyond all reason I have still been playing with my yarn.

First up the Carbeth is almost finished.

knitting carbeth sweater

I know, what is that big hole if it is almost finished? That is the underarm section that needs grafting together. I must admit I stopped and put this aside for a few days while I pondered whether to do Kitchener Stitch or a three-needle bind off. What I finally realized is that the holes were not going to close on their own and I had to make a choice. Since the sweater is knit holding the yarn double so the closing needs tobe done holding the yarn double. I felt Kitchener wouldn’t work for me so I went with the three-needle bind off. It looks good.

The trouble is that either side of the bind off are holes that need to be sewn together. I thought a simple mattress stitch would work well and it would if the stitches on either side were not so large and out of shape. I ended up mattress stitching what I could and then sewing the remaining holes shut so it looked like a neat underarm. I have four more yarn segments to weave in and the sweater is ready for blocking.

I have also been playing with my spinning. My latest is definitely in the category of yarn and is almost dead on in terms of the size I want.

spinning yarn tibetan spindle

I wound this into a little ball and am going to make a second spindle full then ply them together. I don’t know what I will knit out of it, but I am going to knit it up even if it is just a square. If it comes out nice I might frame it as my first actual spun yarn and date it.

On my list of things to buy is a knitty noddy so I can get some sort of count on the yardage. I also need a wpi (wrap per inch) tool to get a handle on the weight of the yarn. I am going for fingering but I might be in the DK territory.

I can’t explain my passion for spinning. Just that every time I spin with the spindle my soul sings. It has been a very, very long time since I have experienced such a feeling and I am so glad that I finally got the nerve to give it a try. Of course I am still very much learning, reading and watching YouTube videos, yet the pleasure and peace I get from it is well worth all the research and attempts.

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Going Nuts

Yarn Rascal is way too interested in the supported spindle spinning process. He thinks if he holds the unspun wool with his two front paws while I am trying to spin this is helping me. I would wind the unspun wool around my wrist to get it away from him, but it’s 90 F / 32 C here with humidity and I don’t feel like having wool wrapped around any part of my body. So the spindle is put aside for now. I wasn’t happy with how the spinning was turning out anyway. I am doing something wrong in the drafting process because the resulting mess “yarn” is way too thick and no matter what I try I can’t seem to make it thinner. How many videos can one human being watch on spinning before loosing one’s sanity? They all look the same and I think I am replicating their movements but what they create as opposed to what I create are two different products. Frustration.

On the zoo front, we have three wild turkeys living with us. One male and two females. The babies just hatched recently. We stay inside between 1pm and 3 pm because that is when the females like to take the babies on a long walk around the place. So cute. They drive Yarn Rascal round the bend, but what he really gets nuts over are the rabbits and their babies. He positively quivers when he sees them. If summer doesn’t end soon either Yarn Rascal will have a nervous breakdown over the rabbits or I will over the spinning. With all this going on The Skipper has resorted to his Man Cave, which is the basement. Smart man.

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The number of ways I can find to annoy myself is amazing. This is the latest way.

spindle spinningYes, that is a Tibetan spindle, its bowl, and a whole lot of unspun merino wool. I’ve managed to have a whole 4 seconds of proper spinning where everything was clicking just right. It made my soul sing. However, I’ve not repeated those seconds.

I am teaching myself by reading and watching spinning videos how to do this. I’ve made progress too. It now takes me only one hour to get an empty spindle started as opposed to a half a day.  Once I get some “spun” wool (I use the word spun very loosely) I try to make a temporary cop. Then I try to slide that down the spindle to make a permanent cop. Almost everything will slide down to the permanent cop area near the whorl. Everything but the wool I used to start the spinning. It’s wound so tight it needs some serious tranquilizer prescribed for it. So I am making little cops near the top of the spindle until I can relax my starting style. I figure that might take a year or so.

When I went to purchase the unspun wool I didn’t know how much I’d need, but I figured it to be a lot since I have no faith in my ability to learn this craft. The online retailer offered wool in ounces, pounds and a whole sheep or two. My cursor really hoovered over the whole sheep choice. I mean, once I bought them and they were delivered what could The Skipper really say. Instead I went with something close to a pound of unspun wool. I know me and I know I need a ton of practice at this.

The rubber met the road, so to speak, on my spinning journey when the unspun yarn arrived and had to be introduced to Yarn Rascal. He knew something was wonderful and different the minute I hefted the bag in. Thank the spinning gods the package was Yarn Rascal proof because he went bananas. When I told The Skipper what I bought he said a number of things, but eventually he said it was going to take the two of us together to introduce Yarn Rascal to unspun yarn.

I decided to open the yarn package on the dining room table while The Skipper held Yarn Rascal so he could see but not touch the yarn. Remember in the 1960s when women wore kerchiefs on their heads and when they’d take them off their whole head of hair would pouf out into a large aura around their heads? Well, breaking open the package of yarn was much the same experience. Unshackled it was a lot bigger and a lot more yarn than I had imagined. Yarn Rascal went ballistic, jumped out of The Skipper’s arms and ran right on top of the table at the beach ball size thing of yarn.

Now unspun yarn needs to be handled gently in order not to felt or stick together or otherwise become unspinnable. A salivating, tongue hanging to his little ankles, wild eyed, screeching Yarn Rascal in no way bodes gentle handling. So I did the first thing that came to mind. I threw my body over the table and on top of the nice big beach ball pouf of yarn flattening it to within an inch of its life. This quick action has exacted its toll. Every time I go to spin some “yarn” (I use yarn in the loosest sense of the word) I have to predraft the fluff and air back into it.

Yarn Rascal was introduced to a small piece of unspun wool once we calmed him down. He is very interested in it and whenever he hears the spindle and bowl click together he comes running from whatever he’s doing to watch.

At some point I am going to put the “spinning” ( I use the word spinning in its loosest sense) down and finish the second sleeve of the Carbeth sweater, but right now I can’t  seem to keep my hands off the spindle.

 

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