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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A summary of recent projects.

A fiber blog sounded like a good idea. Even if no one else reads it, I can keep track of the things I have done and the things I wanted to do when I'm stuck in a rut later.

I was very deprived of free time last semester, with 20 credits, a job, and volunteer work. Needless to say, my spinning was quite neglected. The semester ended, and I've been a flurry of activity since then. I didn't realize I missed spinning so much until I found time to do it again.

The first thing I did was work on the lace-weight qiviut I set aside for my schoolwork. That went fine, until I started moving my hands faster than my feet and too little twist went into the yarn. Now it's drifting apart every time I try to restart, and I am backtracking to the point at which I was spinning the yarn properly. So I set that aside once again, and I will go back to it one I've exhausted all the other exciting things I've started doing.

I was given my wheel (an Ashford Kiwi) for my birthday almost two years ago. It's a double treadle, and previously, I had only spun on a single treadle. Needless to say, I'm still adjusting. 8 years of single treadle habits are hard to break, especially when spinning regularly becomes a challenge.

So, I made a run to the local fiber store and got some of the new 80/20 merino/silk blend from Ashford in Pomegranate and some brown welsh top. I spun up a spindle of each and worked a one-skein scarf without plying the two strands. I don't like how overpowering the pink is, and I wish I had spun the welsh more thickly, but it's done now, and this scarf actually sold recently!

Next, I picked up some roving for a custom yarn. The demand was for a chunky yarn, something I hadn't tried to do on purpose in quite some time. So I tackled the challenge head-on, combining pink and blue corridale pastels with white superfine merino to produce a yarn slightly more patriotic than I had intended. I shipped it yesterday, so hopefully I hear back in a few days.
Then I set the twist in several yarns I had laying around, since I discovered the process. I am surprised that I hadn't heard of it before, except that the only spinners I interact with on a semi-regular basis are my grandma and my aunt, both of whom are not necessarily the most experienced spinners. Before setting the twist, the yarns were kinky and overspun. After, most of the kinks shared their twist with the rest of the yarn and lay flat. There are still a few small kinks in these yarns, but nothing that would get in the way of a project.

Then we went on vacation. I brought along a couple of yarns. One is thick, fuzzy, and 2-ply. The other is thin, scratchy, mohair, and single-ply. I had two skeins of the first (a total of about 240 yards) and one of the second (a total of around 980 yards [yeah, it was a big skein!]). Both were gifted to me at some point, and although I had started a scarf with the first yarn, I had no pattern, and I set the scarf down after less than a foot of knitting. I took it along with us, restarted with a pattern in mind, and produced a beautiful 6-foot scarf.
I was looking around on the internet a couple of weeks before and I saw a blog in which a partially finished entrelac scarf was pictured. I immediately thought of the mohair yarn, and after I finished the scarf above, I started the entrelac. So far, it's not working out quite the way I intended for it to. One, the yarn is much thinner than is intended when working an entrelac scarf. Two, I bought the "correct" size needles right as we were leaving town, and of course I picked up a pair of ridiculously long, metal needles. I prefer to work on circular bamboo needles, partially because the needles are less slippery, and partially because the work-in-progress is less likely to slip off of circular needles. I love using the cable in the middle for stopping in the middle of a row, because all you have to do is slide the needles toward one another and let the work slip toward the center. The needles are generally large enough that the ends won't slip back over without help. Anyway, no pictures of this scarf yet, as I haven't completed much of it. I'm waiting until I get needles I like more. I also might restart, since the edge is loose and sloppy.

Before we left, I started spinning a yarn from roving I handpainted with kool-aid dyes. I finished this yarn after we got back, and here's the result:

I've been trying to spin all the roving I have laying around or put away in totes before I go purchase more, but there are always so many fun things at the fiber store (and I recently got a gift certificate!). I'm currently spinning up another batch of wool that I handpainted in green, orange, and a really murky purple. I really like the brightness of the orange and green, but the purple kind of ruins it for me. I might pull the purple parts out and save them for a yarn made of scraps. Next in my plans is handpainting some white superfine merino and something gray with kool-aid dyes. The white will get greens and blues, and the gray will get reds. For some reason, I really like crimson yarns. I'll take pictures and post them when I get around to the dying.

Thanks for reading this oversized first post! :)

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