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.
So the Tour has come and gone, but while it was around I got some pretty good spinning done.
I spun one braid of Indigodragonfly fiber (the blue-and-grey skein in the top photo), and three braids from my ITW stash. The colourways were, in order: “Eureka” on BFL, “Captain Tightpants” on BFL, and “Andraste” on English Shetland.
The two BFL braids I worked on spinning for The Holy Grail – that is, a 3-ply sock yarn. I’ve been out of practice spinning very fine yarns, and while I find my way back into the groove, I’m spinning a lot of very high quality, even sport-weight.
My Captain Tightpants spin was the closest I’ve come in a while – it’s around a 16 wpi yarn (commercial sock yarns tend to come out at around 18 WPI), but the yardage was fairly unimpressive at only 280yd. I’m happy with how I spun it, in terms of the way the colours move and the quality of the yarn, but it may end up being not-socks instead.
The yarn that I ended up being the happiest with was my last braid, the Andraste on Shetland. I really wasn’t sure how to spin this – the Shetland was very poofy but coarse, and I couldn’t imagine using it for anything intended for next-to-skin wear. I decided to spin it as a two-ply, hoping for something close to a DK weight so that I could make mittens (which I could always line with something softer, if I needed.) I ended up with a really great, poofy DK weight with enough yardage for mittens, and sort-of-almost lined up the colours in my spinning. This will end up striping when it’s knit up, and I’m looking forward to that.
I don’t know what the overall lesson here is, other than knowing that I’m still finding the balance between spinning intentionally and spinning intuitively. I’ve got a good sense of how to use my wheel to make yarn, and I’m pretty good at controlling the size of my singles and keeping them consistent. I’m still finding, though, that it’s the yarns where I really want them to be something that turn out not-quite-right, and the yarns I spend less time fretting about that end up as lovely surprises. I’ll have to think about this in the context of one of my longer-term spinning goals – to try spinning for another sweater quantity, someday.
This is turning into such a spinning blog! I’ve been keeping up with my daily spinning for the Tour, but over this period I usually try to spin at least 30 minutes a day, instead of just spinning daily. I can only sustain a pace like that for a few weeks – I like working on too many other things to use all of my creative time for my wheel – but when so many other people are spinning the same amount, it’s fun to join in!
I spent a few days working on this braid of BFL, in “Eureka,” from the Into The Whirled club. I had high hopes to spin this as a 3-ply and end up with a lovely, barberpoled fingering-weight yarn with lots of yardage.
I ended up with 200yd of DK weight, instead. While not exactly what I wanted, it is pretty, and I think will make a lovely pair of mittens, or part of a sweater.
The other nice thing about ‘failing’ a little at my “Eureka” braid, is that it set me up really nicely to spin my next braid. This is the current spin on my wheel – “Captain Tightpants,” which I have been saving in my stash for about a year, now. It’s also BFL from Into The Whirled. Because I’d just finished spinning a yarn that was the wrong weight, I was able to correct and spin singles that were much, much finer.
This braid is taking much longer to spin, but I feel more hopeful that the finished yarn will turn out to be the weight I’m hoping for.