The Summer of Spinning

Last summer was the summer I discovered Blue Faced Leicester, Wensleydale, Camel and Cashmere blends. It was the summer I plyed using a prespun laceweight for one ply. It was the summer of the three ply. It was the summer I spun exotic singles and bought from Spindlefrog and Exclusively Linda Lee,  my favourite International crack fibre suppliers. Here are some of my spins and you can see the improvement from previous spinning posts!

you know how when you get a box of chocolates you eat your least favourite first, even if you love all of them? well it’s a bit like that when you’re a newbie spinner choosing from your stash. So even though I LURVE this fibre, I chose it as ‘not my most precious’ and spun it up when i arrived in Adelaide.

Gumnut Magic Angorino from Ixchel: 14wpi, 86g, 204m of 95% 18micron merino, 5% angora, which makes it a sport weight of yum!

Then my first package from Spindlefrog arrived. I couldn’t resist the colours of the Mermaid BFL and was so curious about this raved about fibre it was instantly on the wheel

don’t you just want to dive into it! It’s not the most even yarn, varying from 13- 16 wpi. but it’s a good little heavy fingering (that sounds dirty) weight yarn. great meterage too at 365m from 119g.

So I took part in a dye your own swap, and working in my parents house, with curious cats and a clumsy dog around, I chose to dye with jelly and food colouring. I have a great technique where I do a standard jelly dye (simmering the fibre in jelly with a bit of vinegar) and just dribble some food colouring in of a similar colour to give a semi solid effect. I dyed up a batch in green, blue, pink, purple and red-pink for my swapee, but there was a little pink and purple left over. YIPPEE! so I spun a single with that, just to see what it was like after the dying process. At about the same time, this optim/seacell blend from the incomporable Mandie at EGMTK arrived in a slightly more vibrant colourway than i was expecting. but, low and behold GENIUS struck me and I spun it up as a single and plied them together… the result?

360m of AWESOMENESS. It was so SHIMMERY, which is of course how it got it’s name – Fairy Princess –  since it reminded me of luminescent fairy wings and it was just so damned GIRLY! My friend ended up buying off me and knitting a morning surf scarf for her good friend’s birthday. it looked amazing 🙂

Before heading to Adelaide I’d gone to visit Charly  (aka Ixchel) at the Sunday Arts Markets and not only had i bought far too much fibrey goodness, but she sold me a skein of laceweight cashmerino to experiment with plying. It was a perfect match for one of the braids, and so I chose that at my next adventure, using a couple of defaced coathangers and a champagne bottle as a swift!

It was my first time plying like this and it took me quite a while to get the hang of it, but where it works I love it! the colours were a great match, i got a CRAPLOAD of yardage – 537m –  and a whole pile of angorino left over for later… I called it Ocean Shadows, after the name of both the braid and cashmerino and it sits at about a sport weight.

So I was feeling pretty confident about now and my first pile of deliciousness had arrived from across the Pacific from Linda Lee. She specialises in exotic fibres and I’d ordered 2oz of Camel/Silk in the Syrah colourway – it seemed like kismet having grown up with a cat of that name! It was divine to spin. I got some advice from LL herself on rav which really helped to make it a simple if time consuming spin. I kept the yarn as a single to maintain the colour and to gain maximum yardage (210m) from this delicious fibre. It sits at a light fingering, perfect for a lacy cowl…

 

Continuing on the ELL adventure, I ordered two different fibres in the same colourway – a cashmere silk and a cashmere baby alpaca in Crushed Cranberries – with the intention of plying them together. When the second lot arrived, I buried my face in it, spun them together! this is the most beautiful skein i’ve spun and it’s sooooooooooo soft and squooshy. If i were to sell it, it would be for about $100 because of the fibre content and the love that i have for it. But there’s no way i’m selling this. Come Autumn it will be draped around my neck in some lacy concoction and whenever I feel blue I will bury my face in it, like i did the day it arrived.

I got a fantastic 375m from the 4oz and it’s a fingering weight, so will create a lovely drapey fabric.

Hey remember that gumnut magic angorino? well I only spun about half of it, since Charly’s braids are a whopping 150-160g (6oz) and I had this fantastic idea that if i spun it with a creamy white, it would look like snow in the australian mountains (not that i’ve SEEN snow…). So of course i did exactly that. Charly advised keeping the white/cream ply really thin and if i were doing this again, I would do it as a three ply, with 2 of the main colour, one of the cream. But still it’s an interesting effect and i’m curious to see it knitted up.

I called it Snow on Blue Mountains and got just under 300m of light fingering weight out of it.

i had ordered some custom dyed machine wash merino from miss Mandie at EGMTK for my birthday, and since that was always going to be destined for sock yarn, i thought it time to experiment with three plys. The challenge at EGMTK for the month was inspired by a song, and this merino and tencel fibre, with its shimmery moody blues, made me think of Regina Spektor’s Lady (sings the blues so well, as if she mean it…)

I still can’t get over the shine of ‘Lady Toko’ and want to do a beret in it. I should have enough at 250m of DK weight!

I wanted to try a new fibre next, so i turned to another Spindlefrog creation – Wensleydale in the Unicorn colourway. wensleydale is hard to get your hands on in Aus. It’s not an overly soft fibre, but it spins like BUTTER!

It wasn’t a lengthy spin though, only 165m from 100g at a DK weight, but it will find a purpose somewhere!

Before I get to the last spin… you guys remember this yarn?

well, as per the deal with Miss E, it became this

It’s based on a simple shell lace pattern from the Harmony Guides Lace Stitch Dictionary by Erika Knight. The buttons are kinda retro and there are a gazillion different ways to wear it! Miss E loves it and apparently wore it all the time i was away over winter!

 

One last spin to tell you about. This is the custom colourway from Mandie, that I named Roses for Jen, being on a account of my sending a bunch of pink rose images to Mandie and her dying the yarn for me. I wanted socks. so a three ply it was. I did a sort of variation on a fractal spin, so one strip was spun as it appears in the braid, one was split twice and one about five or six times.

I got 340m of heavy fingering 3ply out of 140g of fibre.

And, just last week I finished knitting my socks from them! My first pair of handspun socks! I was sooooo excited. The pattern is Firestarter by Yarnissima (ravel it! go on i dare ya) The yarn was a bit thick, realistically. I actually broke a needle, working cables on 2mm wood needles! I didn’t use a cable needle, since they were all twisted stitches. I loved the construction and watching the yarn variegate as i knitted was totally exciting! I have about 100g of yarn left too I think!

 

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I am the worst blogger in the world

ok, so maybe not the worst, but i’ve left the internet (I’m not arrogant enough to think i have readers) hanging for ten months!!!! In all fairness I was overseas for about half of that, and i am only just starting to put my life back together! Apparently that includes blogging!

I wanted to reconnect with this blog for a number of reasons. Firstly I have a crafty travellers adventures to tell you all about. So many yarn stores, so much yarn.  have some gorgeous purchases from all over the western world 🙂

Secondly, I made some amazing improvements in my spinning ability over the summer. I was in Adelaide working on a theatre show, so i pretty much just rehearsed, organised and spun (and knitted a bit…). I moved on to some BEAUTIFUL fibres and worked with plying different fibres together and all sorts of things. My wheel is still in Adelaide and I am in Melbourne, so i have to take yet another break, but luckily it is much like riding a bike. I do have a nice new spindle, so I really should try that out.

Thirdly, I have written up my first pattern. Yep. My very first written out pattern that I created. It’s socks, so I kinda borrowed heel flap concepts from another pair I’d just knitted, but other than that it’s all me. I worked out how many stitches, and a cute little cable into the heel flap and all sorts! I have two lovely ravellers knitting it at the moment and hope to have it available as a free download on this site and on ravelry (or at least as a post here) in a few weeks!!! EXCITING!

meanwhile, as soon as I finally get around to measuring up my bestie E, I will be designing and knitting a soft little sleeveless cardi for her, hopefully ready for next autumn (which for you Nth Hempisphere folk is March/April). I will be knitting it in the absolutely sumptious Filatura Di Crosa Superior,  a laceweight silk cashmere blend, which I will be working on 4mm needles for a lacy effect. I have worked out the gauge (written next to sketches in my Stitch n Bitch designer’s notebook, thanks Debbie Stoller) but  need to get the measurements of the lady in question so i can start doing the maths. And I thought I’d never use it outside of school! lol. (well to be truthful I have NEVER had to do integral calculus or use group theorums since graduating)

Christmas is also coming up, but i don’t quite know what I will be doing knitting wise, since my aunt has decided to do a stupid secret santa thing. So not sure who my chosen recipient is, but will make something for them. As for besties and my mum, dad and grandparents, I’m not sure. Definitely not as organised as last year. But on the plus side, I only work one day a week (boo, more days in the yarn store please!) and can knit like the WIND! and of course there’s always crochet.

So. Exciting posts ahead. I will pace myself though, otherwise I’ll be burnt out by xmas and you’ll have to wait another ten months!