Handspun

Last September at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival I picked up this lovely roving for $10.

IMG_0384

There is just a little hang tag which is hand written and says “color: sea mist, 70% merino, 30% Tussah silk” so I can’t tell you who the vendor was.  Probably best for my wallet that I can’t remember.  The colors are carded together so beautifully and subtly.  I immediately got the yarn onto the spinning wheel.

IMG_0382

I spun up one whole bobbin, then it sat… (totally unlike me to leave a project mid way through huh?  I’m never like that, I totally always stick with things to the end… cough… on an unrelated note, Ryan may have called me a “sock slut” yesterday… I think the exact comment was “you’re totally not a real slut, but you are a sock slut” in that same voice you use with the know-it-all who is standing before you swearing up and down that they are most certainly not a know-it-all in any way, shape, or form, they just test well, and memorize easily, and you know, learn things fast.)

I blame school for this particular abandonment.  Since I’m still new at spinning it takes me quite a while to acclimate to the wheel, find the right treadling speed, the right way to hold my hands to make drafting easier, etc. so if I’m going to spin I like to have a big chunk of time to work at it.  Big chunks of time aren’t easy to come by with a law school schedule, hence the not so much spinning.  If you are thinking to yourself: “If you just took those small amounts of time to practice you would get better and learn to be productive in those smaller time allotments,” you can hush.

Once school ended I got back on the wheel and quickly filled the second bobbin.  Here are the singles.

IMG_1011

I divided the 4oz of roving before I started into two 2oz pieces thinking this would give me a chance at getting roughly the same amount of yarn on each bobbin.  Here is the finished yarn.

IMG_1065

The puny little skein is the amount that was left on one bobbin when the other was used up.  I wound it into a ball on my ball winder then plied it against itself pulling from the center and outside of the ball.  Plied it’s about 32 yards which means that I had 64 yards more on one bobbin than the other.  They say (whoever “they” are) that beginning spinners tend to start by spinning bulkier yarns and as they settle into the rhythm begin to spin finer and finer.  This seems to have been the case here.

IMG_1067

I love the color, “Sea Mist” is the perfect name for the colorway.  I also love the shininess from the silk.  It does make it hard to get an accurate picture though.  It’s more muted than it shows here, some of that shine is just the camera.

IMG_1068
Isn’t my WPI tool cute?

This yarn is pretty consistent (especially for only being my second adventure in wheel-spinning) most of it is about 17 wraps per inch.  The internet is telling me that this is even finer than a standard fingering weight, but it looks like to me more like a heavy fingering to a sport weight.  Do you find the WIP guide to be an accurate comparison to machine made yarn sizes? Maybe I “squished” my yarn together a bit when measuring.  Anyone know what tension the wraps are supposed to be done at?

In the end I ended up with about 326 yards of 2-ply in the fingering-sport range.  There are a few places (not too many) where the singles got over energized and corkscrewed and there are a few places that were under-plied but overall I’m really happy with how this turned out.

Now comes the peril of trying to find the perfect pattern for it.  Any suggestions?

Yarn Crawl part 2

Yesterday I covered the first 6 stops on my adventure participating in the Portland Yarn Crawl, today you get to hear about the last 6. This should be a shorter post since as the day went on I had to move faster through the shops… believe it or not there is such a thing as wool-overload and by the end of the day I definitely had it.

Stop 7: Make One in Milwaukie, OR (yes Wisconsinite friends out here they spell it with ie instead of ee, it drove me nuts the whole first year I was here.) The yarn selection here was extremely picked over by the time I got here (around 3:00) I don’t know how the managed to get through the whole weekend unless they were rationing their stock.

Make One does happen to be one of the stores that was chosen by Knit Picks to carry the Knit Picks needles–apparently KP is testing out having their needles carried by LYSs. This is awesome! I often feel like I want more cables or a certain needle tip size but don’t want to pay for shipping on such a small order. I got nickle-plated tips in size 7 and 8 and more 24″ cords. I also picked up the KP needle sizer. No pictures of those, go to the KP site if you really need to see what their needles look like. (I am not responsible for any money you spend if you click that link.)

Stop 8: Pico Accuardi Dye Works. This isn’t actually a shop in the strictest sense. It’s the studio where two local dyers create amazing hand-dyed yarn and roving which they sell on consignment through other local shops. For the crawl they opened up the studio (and offered 20% off everything purchased there) for knitters to come see their workspace. I bought this roving.

IMG_0807

It had no label (that freshly dyed!) so I can’t tell you what it’s officially called. I’ve been calling in Blueberry because that’s what it reminds me of. It’s 4 oz. of 100% Blue Faced Leicester roving. It’s so fluffy! Sometimes roving comes all squished down and dense from the dying process that you have to fluff it up and pre-draft a bit before it’s easy to spin. This feels like I can pop it on the wheel and begin.

Stop 9: Knit/Purl. I don’t love Knit Purl. They carry some good lines (they have the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter!) but it’s in the Pearl District (which is sort of a fancy boutique-y neighborhood near downtown Portland) and I usually feel like my smaller purchases are frowned on–like I should always be buying $100s in yarn. Really, I would if I could, but you don’t need to ask me “Is this all for today?” while looking down your nose at my single skein of sock yarn, then rolling your eyes when I say yes. It’s a yarn crawl for goodness sake! I went to twelve shops! How much do you want me to spend in your shop before you are nice to me?! Here’s the offending single skein.

IMG_0814

It’s Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorway Grove. It’s that scummy yellow-green-brown that I seem to have been obsessed with on Friday. Lest you think I’m nuts, this one is more green, the Smooshy from yesterday is more yellow and the Eco + from yesterday doesn’t have the “scum” quality… that makes them all completely different.

(You might be thinking: Why if you know you don’t like Knit/Purl and they have *&^$%# customer service, did you go there and spend money? The raffle baskets that’s why. I wanted my shot at a giant basket stuffed full of yarn-y goodness. As for why I spent the money, it IS a yarn store. When you walk in it’s full of yarn. The desire to have the yarn competes mightily with the desire to shun the business. It’s hard for me to feel bitter around that much wool. It’s only after leaving the shop that the rudeness hits me and I realize that, while it is full of yarn, I don’t like those people and can get equally good yarn elsewhere. I figure I won’t be back till next year’s yarn crawl so it’s not like I’m the one keeping them open.)

Stop 10: Urban Fiber Arts. This is the only shop (that I’ve found) with a truly GOOD selection of spinning materials. They also carry yarn–really nice yarn–but I love them for the spinning selection. I got some fiber. This is the last of my fiber purchases from the day. I spin even more slowly than I knit so this should hold me for quite a while.

IMG_0808

This is Black Trillium Fibre Studio Blue Faced Leicester Roving. The colorway is called Emerald City. If you know of my obsession with the Wizard of Oz, you know that once I saw the name of the color I could not resist it. I’ve never actually spun with BFL (though my collection is growing) I basically went from Targhee to a Merino/Silk blend and a Merino/Yak blend. It will be interesting trying to go back to a long-staple fiber.

Stop 11: Dublin Bay Knitting Company. This store has a lot of luscious fibers and lots of good crisp rustic wool that makes you feel like you should be knitting ski sweaters or a gansey. It’s not the most budget friendly shop though, you’re pretty much looking at laying down over $100 for a bigger project (there is NOTHING wrong with this, I would do it all the time if I could, I just can’t… pout.) I did manage to find these though:

IMG_0820

IMG_0819

That’s Frog Tree Merino Worsted. The first one is colorway Charcoal, the second is Teddy. This is a single-ply merino. I’m thinking it will make good hats (I have a man who loves beanies) or fingerless mitts for me. Most of my yarn tends to be very colorful so adding some neutrals to the mix is a good thing.

Stop 12: For Yarn’s Sake. I love this shop. I go here all the time. It’s dangerous that it is literally right down the road from me. The customer services was a bit dodgy at first (I think I get more bad service than most people because I am young and sometimes wear a big hoop nose ring… maybe some people think that makes me look unknitterly… I think this is Portland and I look way more conservative that many local crafters. The shop is in Beaverton though, so maybe they don’t get the full brunt of the eclectic Portland crowd.) Now that I’ve been going there for quite a while they know me and are great. They always check in on what I’m working on, ask me what I’m planning, and remember what I said I was working on the last time I was there.

IMG_0810

This is Nashua’s Best Foot Forward sock yarn. The color is called summer sunset. It’s from the color line designed by Kristin Nicholas. It looks nice and fallish, totally appropriate for knit socks. I showed Ryan and he said “ew” and threw the ball. I think you have to have a certain personality type to like pea green.

IMG_0812

This bit of magic is Fleece Artists Peter Rabbit in colorway Ivory. It’s exactly as fluffy and amazing and squishably soft as it looks. I made the fatal mistake of brushing past this on my way to the sock yarn and as soon as it touched my bare arm it was over. I picked it up and didn’t put it down. I had a hard time handing it over so that it could be rung up… what if the sales lady felt it and decided not to give it back? She did. Now it’s mine and I have to puzzle over just the right project for it. It has to be perfect.

IMG_0811

The best for last. (It was really hard to decide if this beat the Peter Rabbit, but I think it does by the tiniest photo-finish-type margin.) This is String Theory Caper Sock in color Tavikki. I just finished my Damson (I will blog it soon) out of this yarn in a different colorway. This yarn is amazing to work with. It has amazing stitch definition. It’s sproingy and wonderful in that way that only wool is. It’s super soft from the merino/cashmere. The colors are so rich and deep. It smells good. It blocks amazingly. In shawl-form it drapes amazingly.

I would compose a love letter to this yarn if I wasn’t afraid someone would have me locked up. (Also, it might start some insane conservative vitriol about how if we go around allowing gay marriage, the next thing you know, crazies in Portland will be demanding to marry their yarn and we don’t want to start down such a slippery slope… I am related to many of these whacked people, I know how they reason. Better not to give them any ammunition.)

Fiber Adventures

Way back when Sock Summit came to Portland I decided that I wanted to learn to spin. Student loan budgets being what they are, I decided to learn on a drop spindle. I bought the spindle and some fiber that looked pretty.

IMG_0567

I didn’t get to far with it though… I had a hard time getting a hang of drafting while the spindle was spinning and was getting frustrated. I later learned that Targhee (that’s what the fiber was) is knowing for being trickier to draft and isn’t the best “learning” fiber. I set it aside for a long time and pretty much gave up on spinning.

Then in August I got the idea into my head that I would tie up all my loose end projects. I got the spinning back out to finish it. Something clicked this time, and I blew through all the fiber and wanted more.

The end result is certainly not perfect, but it was quite fun to make.

IMG_0395

This is 3 0z. (I used one oz to make thrummed mittens) of 100% Targhee wool. It ranges it weight from super bulky in places down to light fingering in others.

IMG_0397

The color is much more like the top photos, a happy pink rather than the muted coral of the last picture.

At that point I pretty much decided that I was hooked on spinning and I jumped into the deep end and bought this:

IMG_0381

That is a Babe Fiber Arts Fiber Starter Double Treadle Spinning Wheel. I bought it on eBay. It is made of PVC pipe and a wheelchair wheel. It is perfect for me. Cheap, easy to use and maintain, and pretty near indestructible. The cats have not been able to do any perceptible damage even though they are completely obsessed with the wheel. The wheel came with 8 oz of mystery wool fiber which I promptly spun up. It’s way over-spun in some places and pretty thick and thin but it was great fun to make. I’m sure I’ll just knit something to felt that way it won’t show. I’ve been stashing fiber ever since.

Last weekend was the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival and I somehow managed to convince Ryan that it would be a good idea to take time away from our law school studies to drive an hour over to Canby and spend the whole afternoon looking at yarn and fiber. I think Ryan was expecting a few tables with a few piles of yarn on them since he still has a hard time believed that there are actually people in this world that get super excited over yarn and fiber. It was glorious. Every building of the Canby fairgrounds was packed with booths and the entire lawn/picnic area was covered with outside booths as well. There was easily 250 vendors present. I walked away with a fantastic new fiber stash and, this is the most amazing part, I only spent $75! Yeah for local products!

IMG_0384

IMG_0394

These are each 4 oz of 70% Merino and 30% Tussah Silk. The top picture is colorway Sea Mist and the bottom picture is colorway Red. This fiber is fantastic. I’ve heard the phrase “drafts like butter” bandied about on the Ravelry forums but with my Targhee experience I never really believed it… until now.

IMG_0382

This is only my second wheel-spun project and it’s so even. It’s drafting down to almost lace weight. I don’t know if I’ll ply it or just work with it as a single, it’s spinning so evenly it would work well as a single and I would have more yardage. I love the subtlety of this color. “Mist” is the perfect word for it.

IMG_0387

This is 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Tencel blend. The picture makes it look like its silver and that’s because it is. Yeah, that’s right, SILVER yarn. I don’t know how the dye looks so metallic, but it’s wonderful.

IMG_0403

This is dyed by the same woman. It’s 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Yak. That’s right, Yak. It’s wonderful. It’s harder to draft than the Merino/Silk but easier than the Targhee was. It’s on my spindle now. I don’t have a picture of it because it lives at Ryan’s house so that I have a project to work on when I’m there. Ryan seems to understand that having something for me to work on at his place is necessary for keeping me sane.

IMG_0392

This is 8 oz of 60% alpaca 40% wool. It’s super soft and I love the earthy colors. This will be interesting to spin since I’ve never spun from a bat before, only roving.

IMG_0391

IMG_0390

These are 4 oz each of Blue Faced Leicester. They were $5 each. Amazing deal. I love the colors. They will make something fun to wear during the bleak Portland winters

IMG_0389

This is so shiny it’s impossible to get a picture of it. It’s the softest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s 2 oz of pure silk. I don’t think I’ll be able to get any real yardage out of it, so I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but it’s worth it just to feel the fiber.

I haven’t really done much knitting. I’ve finished one project since my last post… (and I can’t even show it to you since it was a test knit and the pattern hasn’t been released yet.) I have several projects that will only take an hour or two to finish but I can’t bring myself to do the boring bits like weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, ribbing, etc. Hopefully, I’ll get something off the needles this week that I can show you.

WIPs march of shame (part three)

This next project was started last August so there is some slim hope that they may be finished in less than a year. Slim, since for some reason I am extremely slow at sock knitting, but a hope none the less. I actually enjoyed knitting these socks while I was working on them, but problems kept arising. First, the cats chewed through one of my knitting needle cords, then they were too small for the intended recipient, then the intended recipient and I broke up so there didn’t seem to be a point to going back and fixing the mistake, then the cats got a hold of one of the balls of yarn and it’s a big old tangled mess that needs to be undone… So they sat unworked on.

IMG_0605

These are Mojo Socks by Donyale Grant and the pattern is free. Lots of people on Ravelry have done this pattern in bright happy colors and it looks wonderful. Since I knew I would be making man-socks with this yarn, I decided to pick this funky pattern to make my knitting experience less hellish. I think I will attempt to give them to Ryan as he does not own a single pair of dress socks and has smaller man-feet (which means still huge since I’m used to knitting to a women’s 7.5 for myself.)

In other news, I’ve done a little stash enhancing lately. Something about summer always makes me want to spin. Something about knitting with wool is not so pleasant, but touching wool fiber isn’t as bad for some reason. My spinning is still very bad, I’d love to take a class but I only have a drop spindle and am afraid that if I rent a spinning wheel I will end up falling in love and buying one. Here is my stash enhancement:

IMG_0291

This is 100% Superwash Blue Face Leicester from Woolgatherings. A sign in the knitting shop said it is the easiest wool to spin… This may have been a selling tactic, but it worked. I struggled a bit with the Targhee that I bought at Sock Summit last August. You will see what I produced in a later post.

IMG_0290

This may never get spun as I can’t stop petting the fiber itself. This is 70% Alpaca 30% silk from Abstract Fibers and it is heaven. (Can you tell there is a certain color family I prefer? The other day, Ryan asked me, “why is all of your yarn pink?” I hadn’t exactly realized it, but I seem to have a penchant for buying yarn in the pink/red/orange family.) I hope this is easy-ish to spin because I really want to start, but it would be such a tragedy if I ended up with ugly yarn…

IMG_0289

Just for good measure, and because I want to start right away and my other spindle is occupied, I bought a new one. It’s heavier than my other one so we’ll see what kind of yarn it produces.

Back to the WIP grind…