Another Finished Object Friday

I still have no knitting to report. I’ve added a few rows to each of the socks I have OTN, but nothing substantial. However, the spinning keeps, um, spinning along.

I started with this lovely Corriedale top from Into The Whirled in a colorway called Mud Bogs & Moonshine…

and ended with 8 ounces and just under 1000 yards of this lovely fingering weight 2-ply.

I spun one bump end to end on one bobbin. The second bump was split vertically (lengthwise) 12 times and spun the strips end to end keeping the colors in the same sequence. Then I plied the two singles together to make this gorgeous fractal 2-ply. I’m thinking scarf, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. The spinning was done in double drive on my Matchless at a ratio of 15.5:1; the plying was done in flyer lead (Scotch tension) at a ratio of 12.5:1. My Ravelry project page is here.

And there’s more! I also completed this braid of Shetland wool from the Spunky Eclectic Club Remix.

The colorway is State Park. it reminds me of a meadow in Spring, with all the flowers in bloom.

I made a 3-ply DK weight yarn, about 240 yards and 4 ounces.

I stripped the braid vertically into thirds as evenly as I could, then spun the strips end to end on separate bobbins. I was hoping that the colors would line up in at least some places, and they did! I love how the colors blended. This yarn will probably become either a hat or some fingerless mitts.

This was the very first project I spun on my Matchless. I used double drive and a ratio of 15.5:1. The plying was done on my Ladybug in flyer lead using a ratio of 12.5:1.

My current spinning project has been a pretty slow go because I am spinning up 8 ounces of BFL from Spunky Eclectic to make a lace weight 2-ply yarn.

This is the nicest BFL I have ever spun.

The ratio I’m using is 19.5:1, and spinning such thin yarn really takes a lot of time. But I am enjoying it a lot, and I don’t feel guilty about binge-watching Boardwalk Empire because I’m spinning while I watch.

This is the first bump/bobbin, which I finished several days ago. The second bobbin is now nearly finished.

I hope yinz have a great weekend. It’s supposed to get hot again here, but we are ready. Our A/C, which went on the fritz a couple of weeks ago, has been replaced, so hot and humid doesn’t scare me any more. 🙂

 

Cloud Dust

I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out the various features of my new Ashford Traveller spinning wheel. It is a double drive wheel which can also be used in single drive, both flyer lead, aka Scotch tension, and bobbin lead, aka Irish tension. If you are interested in the differences between double drive, bobbin lead, and flyer lead, click here and page down to the heading “Types of Flyers – Single drive versus double drive wheels” for a pretty good explanation. Or watch this video.

Anyway, when I first got the Travvy, I did some spinning in double drive, and it turned out very well. I was surprised by how easy it is to treadle a spinning wheel in double drive. I thought it might be just the Travvy, but then I set up my Ladybug in double drive and, lo and behold! the treadling was amazingly light. And the light, steady uptake really suits the thin and highly twisted singles I prefer when I spin.

I’m definitely a double drive convert, but that doesn’t mean I have abandoned Scotch tension. I love spinning in Scotch tension. I love the control I have over the take-up by just making minute adjustments to the brake band. And when I am plying yarn, I sometimes want a stronger take up than I can get with double drive. And I have to say that while spinning in double drive on my Ashford Traveller is a dream when I am using the regular flyer, when I tried the fast flyer in double drive, it was very fiddly. I’d be spinning along just find, then suddenly there would be absolutely no take up, then there would be, then there wouldn’t be. I had to keep readjusting the tensioning knob and I just couldn’t find the sweet spot where the take up was constant. No doubt it is due to operator error. My drive band was obviously slipping too much at times, and not enough at other times, and I need to experiment with different drive band materials to find what works best with the fast flyer.

But in the meantime, I decided to try the fast flyer in Scotch tension. I’ll say right off the bat that I am not in love with the Scotch tension set up on the Ashford. The brake band is nylon fishing line and the tensioning is done with two springs. The fishing line is a bit stiff and doesn’t wrap around the wooden tensioning knob as easily or evenly as string would, so it takes a lot of fiddling to get everything the way I like it.

I tried using some crochet cotton in place of the fishing line, but even thin, smooth mercerized cotton created too much drag on the bobbin pulley. So I put the fishing line back on.

There’s always a bit of a learning curve with a new wheel, and with experience, I am beginning to get the feel of the Scotch tension on this new wheel. I had this lovely fiber

Superwash BFL/Nylon in Cloud Dust from Spinneretta’s Studio

which I will admit was an impulse purchase. But I thought it would make a lovely 3-ply sock yarn since it is superwash wool blended with Nylon. I undid the braid and divided it lengthwise into equal 3 strips. I just eyeballed it when I was doing the dividing, then I weighed each strip on my kitchen scale. They were surprising close in weight, but I did have to take a small amount off one of the strips and divide it among the other two to get 3 bumps of equal weight. I then spun each bump onto a separate bobbin on the Traveller using the smaller pulley on fast flyer and Scotch tension. I wanted the singles to be fine enough that plying 3 of them together would result in a finger weight yarn, and I wanted to put a lot of twist into both the singles and the plied yarn so that it would wear well.

I plied the 3 bobbins of singles together with the same set up as I used for spinning the singles except I used the larger pulley,

Cloud Dust 3-ply on the bobbin

and I ended up with this lovely skein of sock yarn. The Ashford fast flyer works perfectly in Scotch tension, and with a little trial and error, I’m certain I’ll get it to work well in double drive.

A skein of handspun sock yarn

Now to choose a pattern. I might just go with my stand-by favorite, shadow rib.

Magical Merino

This lovely braid of Merino that I purchased from OnTheRound that I have been spinning during the Tour de Fleece has kind of been center stage lately.

And it’s no wonder. The fiber is beautiful, the seemingly infinite shades of blue are vibrant, and when the yarn was all spun up and plied, the colors blended perfectly.

When I took the skein off the niddy noddy, I knew that I had made a very special yarn. The Merino is very soft and springy, and for once I didn’t over-ply the singles. I was very please with every aspect of this yarn, especially the yardage–approximately 340 yards of sport-weight yarn. Then I took the yarn upstairs to set the twist in the bathroom sink. I filled the sink with hot water, added a few drops of Soak, and submerged the yarn and gently squeezed it until I was sure it was completely saturated with water. Then I left it to soak for 20 or 30 minutes.

When the yarn had soaked long enough, I drained the sink and squeezed the excess water out of the yarn. The second my hands touched the fiber, I knew something magical had happened. My Merino had been transformed into a plump, fluffy, stretchy yarn that was no longer sport-weight but DK weight.

I wrapped the skein in a towel to get out as much moisture as I could and hung the skein over the shower head to dry. Every time I passed the bathroom, I had to stop and fondle the yarn. As it dried, it retained it’s fluffy plumpness. Trust me, it’s a yarn you just want to cuddle with.

The finished skein in all its glory

The finished skein in all its glory

I don’t know whether or not I should be surprised that my Merino yarn pulled a “Polwarth Poof” on me. I’ve never spun pure Merino wool before, just blends, so I have no previous knowledge of how Merino behaves. I know that Polwarth fluffs and plumps up when the newly-plied yarn is put in water to set the twist–the famous (among spinners) “Polwarth Poof”–but I didn’t know that Merino behaved in the same manner.

I have yet to decided what to do with this yarn, but it really has to become a garment that is worn next to the skin, a cowl perhaps? Or maybe a shawlette? Who knows. But whatever it becomes, I know it will be soft and beautiful and very special.

Be sure to visit Tami’s FO Friday to see other fabulous finished objects.

Does This Count For FO Friday?

I never know whether it’s kosher to count a first sock of a pair as a finished object, but since this is my blog, I get to make the rules. 😉

Here’s the back story. A while back, I bought this gorgeous BFL/Sparkle hand-dyed combed top from Woolgatherings on Etsy.

DSC01790

A braid of BFL/Sparkle in gorgeous colors

Because of the Nylon content (Sparkle is Nylon fiber), I thought this fiber was a good candidate for sock yarn; I spun the wool onto three spindles, my two Golding Micro Ringspindles and my Schacht 1.1-ounce Hi-Lo spindle, with the intention of plying them together into a 3-ply fingering-weight yarn. The fiber spun up beautifully, and the Sparkle really does sparkle when the light hits it.

DSC01872

BFL/Sparkle being spun on a Golding Micro Ringspindle

I wound the singles off the spindles to make a 3-strand plying ball, and I plied the yarn using my Schacht 2.2-ounce Hi-Lo spindle. I’m still pretty new to spinning and plying, and I sorta, kinda, like totally overplied the yarn. But still, it looked gorgeous in the skein,

DSC02227

BFL/Sparkle 3-ply skeins

and a tightly-twisted yarn should make for very hard-wearing socks, right?

So I wound the yarn into cakes and cast on sock #1. I decided toe-up was the better option because I wasn’t certain of the yardage. It took me several tries to get the first sock started. I had chosen 2.25 mm needles because the yarn is a little thinner than most of the sock yarn I work with, and normally if I’m using 2.25 mm needles, I knit 80 stitches at 9.5 stitches per inch. So I started with 80 stitches, but after knitting the toe and a few inches of the foot, I realized that the sock was just a little too big. Since I was using garter rib, which is a 4-stitch repeat that consists of alternating one round of 2 x 2 rib with one round of plain knit, I started over and increased up to 76 stitches, a multiple of four.

I knitted the foot using garter rib on the instep and plain stocking stitch on the foot, worked a short-row heel over 60% of the stitches, knitted the leg in garter rib, made a 20-round 2 x 2 rib cuff, and cast off with the sewn cast-off. I tried the sock on and the fit is still a little on the loose side, although not so loose as to be saggy and uncomfortable.

I probably would have gotten a better fit had I gone with my usual 72-stitches. But I’m not going to rip out and reknit the entire sock because the fit is definitely good enough as is, and it might improve after the sock is washed, although I doubt the yarn will bloom much considering that my plying is as tight as Scrooge McDuck.

Sadly, although the top itself was gorgeous, and the singles were beautiful, and the colors blended nicely when plied, making for a lovely skein, the yarn didn’t knit up as prettily as I was expecting.

Sparkly Garter Rib Sock

Sparkly Garter Rib Sock

The sock looks better than almost any sock knit up in almost any colorway of Lorna’s Laces, the expensive yarn that both looks and wears like crap, but it isn’t exactly what one would call gorgeous. This, of course, is not the fault of the hand-dyed top but rather the problem lies with the spinner and plier who didn’t have a clue what the hell she was doing. But this is how a body learns. And sock #2 is OTN.

I will wear these socks when finished, and I will wear them with pride because not only did I knit the socks, I made the yarn. 🙂