So, I still haven’t worked up the nerve to frog my Edith, but in the meantime I’ve been doing lots of other playing with wool that I thought I’d share.
Mostly, I want to talk about my latest hadnspinning finish, and what I’ve got on the wheel right now.
This is some cheviot fibre in “Fen,” from the Into The Whirled classic club from October of last year. (I’m a little behind with my club spinning, clearly.) I decided to spin it as a bit of a palate-cleanser, moving on from the end of one big project before deciding on another. I split it into two halves by weight, spinning for a two-ply.
I didn’t get too fussy in terms of goals and planning, but pne of the things I’ve been working on with spinning has been put-up and yardage. I was doing some reading and wondered if part of my issue was over-twisting, so I did my best to spin fine singles with as little twist as I could manage.
I ended up with this: 335 yards on 101 grams and 21wpi before washing! This is the biggest deal for me in terms of spinning, and I was delighted when I measured out my yardage and got that number!
I’m trying to psych myself up for trying to make this into socks. I tend to get really precious about my handspun when I think about socks – it’s not dense enough, too fluffy, not durable enough – but I also really want handspun socks, so at some point I’m just going to have to go for it.
In the meantime, I’ve planned out a longer-term project spinning a similar style of yarn. I have a pound bag of Rambouillet roving from Olds last year, and would like to spin it into fingering-ish to sport-ish weight yarn and experiment with dyeing it. I’m hoping I’ll get enough for either a nice little mini-sweater or a really good blanket-shawl.
I think it might be my first time spinning a true woolen-spun yarn (from roving, spun long-draw) and it is almost offensively squishy and lovely. I spun a test-skein to make sure I’d be happy with the finished product, and it delights me.
I’m hoping to have the spinning for this done by the Tour de Fleece in July – I always enjoy using that time to play with small quantities of hand-dyed fluff – but we’ll have to see how much time I manage with my wheel over the next month.
So I want to talk about this sweater, and how I don’t like it, and how maybe I dislike it so much that I’m planning on ripping it out and knitting it again.
First, some context. So, way back in the fall, I went on a trip back to Ontario to visit friends and family. I had lots of things that needed to get done, but one personal errand that was really important: I was going to go to Romni Wools, and treat myself to a sweater quantity of Yorkshire Spinners’ Aran, and knit myself the Best Sweater Ever.
(I’d been in love with this yarn for some time before this. It’s a gorgeous millspun BFL with lots of loft and squish, but also fairly pricey because it’s imported from the UK, so: treat.)
My initial plan was to knit Georgetown, but after several swatches, I realized that it wasn’t meant to be. The pattern gauge was much, much denser than I could comfortably achieve with that particular yarn, and so I had three options: knit a super-dense sweater at a painfully tight gauge, recalculate the entire sweater based on my swatch, or knit a different pattern.
I chose Option #3, and (using the search-by-gauge feature in the Ravelry Advanced Search, which has saved my butt on more than one occasion) decided on Edith. I wanted to make a few modifications – mostly length, as I wouldn’t have had enough yarn to knit it as written – but not very many.
So, it’s done.
It’s actually been done for a while, but after trying it on for the first time post-blocking, I realized that it wasn’t quite the sweater that I wanted, and needed some time to think. See, the sweater I wanted was big, and cozy, and squishy. It had lots of ease in the shoulders and arms, both for practical reasons (this yarn gets a bit prickly if it’s skin-tight) and also because my Best Sweater Ever was cuddly and a bit oversized and wear-with-everything. There’s a term in the sewing community, for clothes that look good but are shockingly comfortable: Secret Pyjamas. I was hoping for the sweater equivalent of that.
The sweater that I got is totally adequate, but not quite right. There’s lots of good things about it! Namely: Perfect, flowy boxiness in the body. That garter rib stitch along the collar and upper back, which is perfectly squashy and works beautifully with the yarn. The way this wool blocks out with a nice, gentle BFL halo.
There are some things I don’t like quite as much, though. I’d never knit a sweater with this construction before, and so I didn’t really realize these things were going to bug me like they did. First off, it’s got drop sleeves. This lends a super adorable, slouchy feel to the sweater body, but also means that there’s a sleeve seam right at the widest part of my arm. The sleeves are just a little tighter than I want them to be, and that seam right at the widest part of my upper arm doesn’t help. The other issue is the length, which I miscalculated – I want the body to be, like, four inches longer, and didn’t realize that until the sweater was already knit. The other issue for me is the neckline – it makes sort of a “point” at the back neck, which bugs me when I move my arms during wearing.
Now, I want to stress that none of these issues are related to the pattern itself. Rather, they’re problems with the way my body shape and fit preferences and the body shape the pattern is written for don’t quite line up.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the past few months trying to decide what to do about this sweater. I don’t think I’ll wear it in its current iteration, but I want the sweater that it almost became, the sweater that I want this yarn to be. I’ve thought about maybe just reuniting the sleeves to a bigger size, but the armhole seams and the collar and the length are still going to bug me, and ultimately, if I’m frogging to alter that many things about the sweater, I might as well knit a new one. (I also have two and a half skeins of yarn left over – clearly I knit a much smaller sweater than I was planning, which means I’ve got lots of “wiggle room” to reknit something with extra length or bigger sleeves.)
I haven’t frogged this sweater yet, but I’m planning to set aside a day in the next week to take it apart and reskein all the yarn. I’ve got a few options in mind for its second iteration (Tinder is currently the front-runner). The only other decision left to make is whether I should reknit this over the summer, or to wait until fall when it’s better weather for working on something quite this heavy.
I let most of February (and March, and April) get away from me, although not without good reason. C and I got married at the end of February, and the past three months have been a pretty busy stretch of planning things-doing things-being exhausted-getting a cold-recovering-doing more things.
One of my goals for 2016 was to be better about documenting my making with photos, and I think I’m succeeding there – my Ravelry projects and stash are much more up to date, and I’m instagramming my sewing makes more often. Now, my goal is to start sharing them in this space. I have a lot of projects with stories that want to get told.
This first post is about spinning – something that got away from me a bit in February. I ended up knitting a sweater to wear at my wedding. This was a really great choice in that I got a product I’m really proud of, and it turned out exactly the way I’d hoped. This was a stressful choice because I had to knit only this one, somewhat-fussy thing, for the better part of two months.
By the beginning of March, I was craving easy. Garter stitch. Plain spinning with no planning or expectation. You know the stuff. By the middle of the month, I was in the mood for some instant-gratification spinning, and I’d been staring at a particular bump of dyed Shetland, received as a gift from a spinner pal.
My planning and colour-handling-fussing was pretty minimal, which I think worked out wonderfully. The fiber was dyed in such a way that it repeated itself, which meant splitting it in half width-wise left me with two sections of fiber dyed the same. I split these into four, and spun onto two bobbins for a 2-ply yarn that would hopefully have lined up colours.
I was able to knock the singles out over the course of a few days, and plied loosely to see if I could improve my put-up.
I ended up with about 265 yd in a 108g skein. This is absolutely enough for a hat or pair of mittens, but I really wanted this to be a shawl. Maybe in garter stitch. There’s a theme, here.
I thought about combining it with something else I’d already spun, but I had two issues. First of all, the colours – this yarn is beautiful but also extremely punchy, and hard to match with the rest of my handspun stash. Secondly, I get kind of precious about combining like wool breeds when I spin – the idea of knitting Shetland with something like merino or alpaca makes me feel weird, and I’d rather not if I can avoid it.
Then, I remembered that I had a small bump of undyed grey Shetland lurking in my stash (from Hopeful Shetlands, a farm in Ontario. I think I remember buying it at the Woodstock festival?). I decided to try spinning it up to match my first skein, so that I could pair them together.
The second skein isn’t an exact match for the first. It’s around 218yd in an 87g skein, which is slightly thinner. However: it’s close enough, and it’s also so pretty that I could die. Like, will you look at that halo, it’s so magical. This is a true worsted yarn (from roving, spun long-draw), whereas I suspect the dyed shetland is on top. There were definitely more nepps in the fibre and it took a bit more focus to spin it evenly, but the poof is bananas.
I also think there was a bit of lanolin left in the fleece during processing, possibly for ease of spinning. There was a noticeable change in texture after I gave this skein a bath, and I ended up with a lovely, fluffy hand to the finished yarn.
I’m pairing these two lovelies in another Driftwood shawl, but doing some fussy things with stripes to use both skeins up fully. I wear my original constantly, and I’m excited to have a slightly-heavier handspun version for colder days.