Category Archives: things I spin

the most orangey handspun

Grapefruity Handspun

My trip away from home has finally ended. I’m so, so happy to be back in my city, with my C and my cats and my house just the way I like it. I’m such a nester, and it was really, really rough being away for two full months even with visits. I’m glad that I got through, and now that I’m here, I’m super excited to start being creative again.

Before I get to all the new stuff I’m excited about, though, I wanted to share one last spinning project.

Grapefruity Handspun

This is my latest handspun yarn, and I have to say I love everything about it. The fibre is an indigodragonfly club shipment, polwarth wool in this gorgeous red/pink/yellow/orange colourway called “Grapefruit: The Franklin Expedition of Diets.”

Polwarth is one of my all-time favourite breeds to spin, so it was such a treat to get this in my mailbox! This base spun up beautifully – I hardly had to pre-draft at all – and was such fun to play with.

I also didn’t have nearly the issues with the colour that I did with my last orange yarn. I knew this was going to spin up as reds and oranges going in, so I wasn’t surprised when my finished yarn turned out in those colours. In fact, I love it – it’s so punchy, and I love the way the red bits in the dyed fibre turned out looking pink in the final yarn.

I spun it by splitting the fibre lengthwise into strips, then spinning each strip end-to-end. I chain-plied the singles, which left me with a 3-ply yarn that preserves longish colour repeats. I don’t think the repeats are long enough that this will self-stripe – probably it’ll knit up more like a variegated yarn with long runs of colour.

Grapefruity Handspun

I’ve only got about 250m of a heavy fingering-weight/light sport-weight yarn. I think the poor yardage is due to a couple of things – the first being an ‘incident’ my fiber had with the spinning wheel oil. I came home and found that my oil bottle had fallen over, open, and soaked oil all over the handful of fiber I had waiting to spin next. I tried washing it, but after two washes it was still so saturated I figured it probably wasn’t worth saving. I think I only lost about 5g, but I don’t think it helped.

The other is that this is a three-ply yarn – I think if I’d been willing to split this and make a two-ply, I would have been able to get a lot more yardage per gram. But I like the bounciness of the yarn as it is, and I like that it’s a little on the heavier side. I have a specific non-sock project in mind for this wool, and I don’t think working it in a fatter yarn will be a bad thing.

spinning enthusiastically

Sweetgeorgia BFL

Update: after giving my last handspun a break in a drawer for a few weeks, I’m a lot happier with it. I think the issue was mostly an expectation/reality mismatch, where I was hoping the non-orange would sing more than it did. When I go back to it, it’s actually quite a nice heathered orange that I’m sure will knit up really well.

That said, after my last, somewhat disappointing handspun project, I really wanted to use my wheel for something fun to get my spinning energy back into a good place. I wanted to make something that I knew would look pretty, with no plan as to how I was going to spin it, and no rules.

I’m still spending 80% of my time away from home for wok, and I only brought two bumps of stash fiber up with me, so I didn’t have a ton of stash options to work with. I chose to spin up the one that was blue, as this is by far my favourite colour family to work from. This is SweetGeorgia Yarns BFL, in “Coal Harbour.” It started life looking like this.

Stash

I used my second-slowest whorl, to spin singles that were a bit fatter (and therefore quicker), and spun the whole thing end to end. The braid that I had was a little shop-worn, and I was worried it’d be compacted, but it ended up drafting beautifully with very minimal coaxing. I chain plied the singles, my favourite way of plying, and had the whole thing finished in a week.

This is about 150m of mostly-consistent worsted weight, which I think would make some totally fabulous mittens. The runs of purple in the light blue are pretty short, so I don’t know that it would self-stripe, but I think it will knit up really nicely and make something excellent and squishy to keep me warm.

This – and getting over being sick – was pretty much exactly what I needed to get my spinning enthusiasm back. I’m planning to embark on another fingering-weight spin soon, in orange (although this time, I’m expecting it to be orange), and I think getting a chance to play on the wheel like this has made me ready to tackle something bigger again.

Sweetgeorgia BFL

spinning more yarn

handspun - punchy fruity drinky

I had this yarn all ready to blog a couple of weeks ago, when I actually finished it. Unfortunately, for the past two weeks I’ve been fighting off a really nasty cold that took up a fair bit of energy to get over.

This is a long-term project that I’ve talked about a bit before, but has sort of been consuming my spinning energy for the last month. It’s only 115g or so of fiber, but it took ages to spin.

The fiber is River Side Studios 100% merino. In the braid, it looked like it was this big, intensely multicoloured single colourway, and I was intrigued. When I got it home, it turned out to be three 35g amounts of three different coordinating colourways.

Riverside studios

Singles

So I decided to spin each one, end-to-end. I used my wheel’s fastest whorl and spun as finely as I could, with the goal of plying each of the colourways together for a three-ply fingering-weight yarn. It wasn’t the most fun fiber to spin, to be honest. The wool was surprisingly compacted, and it took a lot of coaxing and pretty aggressive pre-drafting to get it to spin as finely as I was hoping for – which usually isn’t an issue with merino at all.

Still, the nice thing is that my hard work paid off in terms of the spinning – this is 390mg of fingering-weight, and the texture of the yarn is exactly what I was hoping for. I added a lot more twist than I was used to, both in the spinning and in the plying, and ended up with a yarn that’s a lot bouncier and more sturdy than my last fingering-weight handspun. It’s a big closer to commercial sock yarn in feel, and I think will work really nicely for something hard-wearing, like socks.

I am not, however, 100% on the colour. I know that I need to knit it up to really ‘get’ what the colour is like – I suspect that once I turn this into knitted fabric, the blue and green and red notes will sing a lot more. In the skein, though, it’s a little more orangey than I was hoping for. Perhaps this shouldn’t be such a surprise, as there is orange in every single one of the colourways, but I was secretly hoping that the blues and greens would ‘pop’ more than they did.

As it stands, I’m not totally in love with the colour of the finished product. I’m going to let it sit for a little while, as I suspect coming back to it after a couple of months will give me some fresh eyes and a new appreciation for what I’ve made.

handspun - punchy fruity drinky

handspun - punchy fruity drinky