Yarn Cakes

Lately I’ve been knitting nothing but fingerless mitts. I love knitting fingerless mitts and plan to continue knitting them for the foreseeable future. But my handspun is calling to me. So I got my wooden swift out of the closet,

Wooden swift, ready for action!

Wooden swift, ready for action!

 

and pulled the “mashed potato” stool into place.

My ball winder is at home atop the "mashed potato" stool.

My ball winder is at home atop the “mashed potato” stool.

This wooden step stool belonged to my MIL. She kept it in the kitchen behind the door that led to a small hallway to the back door. Her house was old and so was her kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of counter space, so when she made mashed potatoes, she pulled this stool out and sat the hot pan of potatoes on the top of the stool while she mashed them. I never saw her use the stool for anything except mashing potatoes, so I have always called it the mashed potato stool. The stool now sits in my dining room/office next to my computer desk and is the permanent home of my ball winder. My MIL would be pleased to know her mashed potato stool is now an integral part of my yarn-winding “station.” 🙂

After getting the swift set up and the ball winder in place, I wound some of my handspun yarn into yarn cakes.

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

Each yarn now has a designated knitting project assigned to it.

Roses in Her Eyes, a 2-ply spun from a batt from Bohoknitterchic,

Yarn cake on a plate

is designated to become a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t decided for certain, but I’ll probably use a simple 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 ribbing and keep it very plain so that the beauty of the yarn will shine through.  The yarn has a lot of shine, sparkle, color, and texture. It’s a bit thick and thin, and a little slubby, so I plan to keep it simple. I hope it’s as much fun to knit as it was to spin.

Vintage Roses from Corgi Hill Farm will become a Downtown Cowl.

A Polwarth and silk blend

And finally, the pièce de résistance is this beautiful monochrome gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

A lovely monochrome gradient of Polwarth top

that I spun and chain-plied to get a beautiful skein

Just look at the beautiful color transitions

that is now this beautiful yarn cake.

So lovely all wound up

This yarn needs a pattern that is suitable for a gradient yarn, and I think The Age of Steam and Brass is perfect.

I haven’t decided which handspun project to cast on first, but in the meanwhile, I will finish Anne’s Little Twist Mitts

Mitt #2 is well underway.

and probably cast on yet another pair of fingerless mitts. They are so quick and easy, and very satisfying to knit. And even better, they are wonderful to wear. If you’ve never worn a pair, give them a try. I think you will love them as much as I do. And if you have never knitted a pair… Do. It. NOW.

And be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see lots of other hand-crafted goodies.

 

Do You Want To See Some FOs?

It’s Finished Object Friday, and although house guests followed by painting a room in preparation for having new carpeting being laid has made updating my blog a low priority, I have still been knitting and spinning. But since it’s Friday, and the only FOs I have are handspun yarn, I won’t talk about my knitting today. My reason for ignoring my knitting has nothing to do with the fact that I’m still a little ticked at myself for knitting the second sleeve of Cassidy to within a couple rows of casting off before I realized that I had forgotten to change to the bigger needles after knitting the cuff and having to rip out pretty much an entire sleeve and starting it over from the end of the cuff. No, that’s not the reason I’m not talking about my knitting today. Really. It isn’t. Well, maybe it’s totally the reason. Please don’t judge me. 🙂

Anyway, I finished all the projects from my last spinning update, and I thought you might enjoy seeing how the yarn turned out.

Here’s the totally finished gradient I spun. It’s beautiful in the skein, and I need to find just the perfect project for it.

Polwarth gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

This is the best chain-plying I have done yet.  The more I chain-ply, the more comfortable I am with the technique and the better the results. I feel almost competent at chain-plying. Almost. 🙂

Then there was the bright orange, red, and yellow Polwarth from BohoKnitterChic that I decided should become a 4-ply yarn.

Fire Truck in a bucket

I also spun up and plied the lovely braid of Merino/Nylon blend from Mustard Seed Yarn Lab into some 3-ply sock yarn.

A 3-ply Merino/Nylon handspun sock yarn

I really need to get cracking on the knitting and finished my current WIP so that I can cast on some of this beautiful handspun.

If you want to see some other beautiful FOs, please visit Tami’s blog.

What’s On My Wheels

On this WIP Wednesday, I don’t have a lot of knitting progress to show. Which is not to say that progress hasn’t been made on the knitting front. On Friday you will get to see a Finished Object that was completed last Sunday.  I know, I know. But you will just have to wait.

I haven’t been doing a lot of knitting, but I have been doing some. I’ve knitted a few more repeats on the second My Broken Heart sock, and Cassidy’s first sleeve is nearing completion. But there just isn’t enough progress to warrant taking pictures.

The spinning front is a different story. I have four spinning projects in progress, three of which are my Wednesday WIP. The fourth one will be a blog entry unto itself sometime down the road, but I won’t talk about it today.

So let’s start with the project that is furthest along. About a year ago, I bought this braid of gradient fiber from Spinneretta’s Studio. It is Polwarth in a colorway called Monochrome.

A pretty braid of Polwarth

A pretty braid of Polwarth

A gradient colorway is one in which the fiber/yarn goes from one color to another to another gradually. The colors can all be shades of the same hue or they can be very different colors. But the colors never repeat. Gradient colorways provide a spinner with a wonderful opportunity to be creative. There are many different ways one can spin up a gradient. The most obvious one is spinning up the roving without splitting it. Just pull of a length of fiber and spin the colors in the order they appear in the braid. The yarn can either be finished as a singles yarn or chain-plied to created a gradient 3-ply yarn that shows off the lovely color changes.

I chose to spin the braid into one bobbin of singles, then chain-ply the singles. My chain-plying has improved by leaps and bounds in the past month (thank you, Tour de Fleece!), so the time seemed right to finally spin up this braid of fiber.

The yarn is currently on the niddy noddy.

Just look at that color progression!

Just look at that color progression!

I hope you can make out the colors in the yarn. They range from the palest of café au lait to the darkest espresso. I very pleased with how well this yarn turned out (and I know it will become even better when I set the twist), and I’m feeling ready to tackle the other gradient colorways  I have in my fiber stash.  Some of them will be spun and plied in the same manner as the Monochrome, but I think I might try splitting a braid in half lengthwise and spinning each length onto a separate bobbin starting on opposite ends to reverse the color progression. It will be interesting to see the results. And I might give fractal spinning a try with a gradient. Oh, what fun!

And speaking of fun, how could anyone not have fun working with these gorgeous colors?

These colors make me very happy!

This is yet another fiber braid from BohoKnitterChic, and it is currently being spun up on my Ladybug using the smallest pulley on the high-speed “whorl.”

I'm spinning on the wee "whorl."

I’m spinning on the wee “whorl.”

I divided the braid in half lengthwise, then divided each length in half, also lengthwise, which means I have four bumps of fiber to spin up that are approximately the same weight with the colors in the same order. My current plan is to make a 4-ply yarn, but I’m seriously considering chain-plying instead because I love how the colors are striping when I spin them up. When I get all four bobbins spun up, I’ll ply a few yards and knit it up to see how it looks. If I love it, the yarn will become a 4-ply. If I don’t, I’ll chain-ply the singles instead.

I have no doubts about what my third spinning project will become. The superwash Merino wool and Nylon blend I bought from Mustard Seed Yarn Lab was born to be sock yarn.

No one could resist such pretty fiber!

Every time I spin Merino, I am amazed yet again at how very soft it is. So soft. So very soft. And this yarn is spinning up in the most lovely shades of green imaginable.

Mermaid on the Lendrum fast flyer

Mermaid on the Lendrum fast flyer

It will make lovely socks, I have no doubt.

I Went Batty

Not long after I got my first spinning wheel back in October of 2012, I bought this spinning batt from BohoKnitterChic.

A lovely 3-ounce batt

A lovely 3-ounce batt

A batt is fiber that has been prepared on a drum carder. Many batts incorporate a variety of fibers. This particular batt, which is called “Roses In Her Eyes,” contains five different fibers: superfine Merino wool, alpaca, bamboo, silk, and angelina, a sparkly fiber made of Mylar.

In some batts, the different fibers are blended evenly throughout the batt; in others, the fibers aren’t mixed up at all; and in others, the fibers are somewhere in between evenly blended and not mixed up at all.  This particular batt was closer to the “not mixed up at all” end of the spectrum, but the various fibers were nicely distributed throughout the batt.

After pondering what would be the best approach to spinning this batt, I decided that because of the variety of fibers and the different ways these fibers would draft,  I wanted to spin it fairly thick, and I was hoping for a thick-and-thin effect when I plied it. I stripped the batt length-wise into eight pieces and then spun half the fiber on one bobbin, half on another. Because the different fibers were distributed throughout the batt, I knew they would also be nicely distributed throughout the singles I spun.

Pretty singles

Pretty singles

I plied the two singles together,

I plied the singles together on my Lendrum.

I plied the singles together on my Lendrum using the bulky flyer.

skeined them up on the niddy noddy,

Just off the niddy noddy

Just off the niddy noddy

and after setting the twist, I ended up with three ounces (approximately 146 yards) of lovely, next-to-the-skin-soft heavy-worsted-weight yarn that will probably become a cowl.

The finished yarn

The finished yarn

 

Do I need to say I’m pleased with how this yarn turned out? Nope.

 

 

My Challenge

Day 20 of the Tour de France/Tour de Fleece is challenge day. For my challenge spinning, I decided I would try woolen spinning using the supported longdraw technique and spinning from the fold. I did pretty well for a first attempt.

My feeble attempt at supported longdraw spinning

I used some sample fiber that came with my Loop Bullseye bumps. I might finish this off as a singles sample skein, or I might spin up the rest of the samples I have and do a 2-ply sample skein.

I also plied the lovely BFL from OnTheRound. The somewhat bright pastels blend really nicely and I think the yarn will make some very nice wristers.

A hank of 2-ply BFL hanging to dry

And last but not least, I’ve been spinning more of the superwash Merino blend.

Sock yarn in the making

This is my last Tour de Fleece project. I hope to get the spinning finished tomorrow and ply it on Saturday, the last next-to-the-last day of the TdF. I cannot believe how much yarn I have made in the past 19 days.

TdF Day #19

I started spinning up some superwash Merino/mohair/Nylon fiber in a colorway called “I Think I Love You” from BohoKnitterChic.

The first bobbin is nearly done.

I’ve never spun superwash anything before, but I am totally loving this fiber. Merino, even superwash Merino, is heaven to spin. And being superwash that is blended with both mohair and Nylon, this fiber is destined to become a 3-ply sock yarn.