January 30, 2010

Can't Believe I Said That

Did I really say yesterday that I was knitting when I have spinning to do?

I don't know what has come over me.

January 29, 2010


I've set aside the spindle with the blue merino I spun in an idle moment, since I haven't had much in the way of idle moments and I've been distracted by the hat.

I'm a little concerned that the twist will set. I don't suppose it would do any harm, when I pick up again, to not spin the remainder of the ounce of wool but go straight to plying. That way at least if the twist is set, all the twist will be set.

January 28, 2010

Rule of Thumb

I'm knitting the hat and don't have a ruler handy to tell me when to begin to decrease.

I know that my knitting needles are supposed to be over ten inches long and that means I can check the progress against length of the working needle every so often.

January 27, 2010

Hat Progress

I am making progress on the hat that started out too small and had to be started again. Round and round and round we go. The slubs look interesting. I can see some pooling of the yellowed wool parts.

January 26, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I have been doing some spring cleaning. Unfortunately this has meant scrubbing kitchen blinds and such rather than rearranging my wool stash, though I did get to do some of that too.

January 25, 2010

More Gauge Swatching

I did another gauge swatch by mistake instead of knitting a hat like I meant too. For a change, this circumference was too small. The yarn was narrower than the one I'd just been working with and I really had to go through the knitting to discover how many stitches were suitable. Going swimmingly now that I've cast on again.

January 23, 2010

January 22, 2010

Gauge Swatch

The dyed Romney that I spun and knit up is now wrapped back into a ball of yarn. I thought I was making the edge of a hat, but what I was really doing was knitting a really large gauge swatch.

The yarn has gone into hibernation with what's left of the Romney fibre to wait for another day. I left myself a note about stitches per inch and the probable number of stitches I should cast on for a hat.

January 21, 2010

Kudzu Sighting

This is kudzu that someone has soaked and partially combed in a preliminary preparation for eventual spinning.

January 20, 2010

English Wool Combs

Here are three sets of English wool combs by Indigo Hound, along with some uncombed (left) and combed (right) Gulf Coast Native fibre.

What you can't see are the bits of vegetable matter on the floor that dropped out when the fibre was combed.

January 19, 2010

BFL Fleece Sighting

I got to see a BFL fleece recently, possibly from a young animal which would explain the short staple length.

January 18, 2010

A Pound of Cochineal

This, my friends, is a pound of cochineal someone brought back from South America for dyeing.

January 16, 2010

Get Knowledge

Some speaker I listened to said there are three types of knowledge: knowledge by acquaintance, propositional knowledge, and skill and know-how.

Skill and know-how go without saying.

Knowledge by acquaintance means that you know a fact because you're exposed to it. For example, you acquire the knowledge that oranges are usually orange-coloured and that dogs chase cats. You take this sort of knowledge for granted and haven't thought about the facts much, and you probably don't associate what you know with a specialized vocabulary or attribute any causality to the colour of oranges and such.

Propositional knowledge is knowledge you can talk about and think logically about. Someone probably taught it to you.

For most of my life, I was at the knowledge by acquaintance stage regarding knitting and yarn, and I was barely acquainted with spinning. I knew that yarn looked twisted, that sweater cuffs were usually ribbed, that the rest of the sweater was usually made of little v's, that woven wool was usually flat and smooth or napped but knitted wool was usually lofty, and so on. I couldn't tell you why or how, and didn't know the names of stitches.

What a change, becoming a handspinner and moving to propositional knowledge and skill and know-how.
"When a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge."
Proverbs 21:11b NIV

January 15, 2010

Knitted Results of the Thirty-seventh Skein

This is what the thirty-seventh skein looks like knitted up. I haven't finished knitting the object because I need to spin more yarn with the same gauge.

I am really happy with the lofty yarn I achieved with the teased and predrafted wool. With this yarn I have finally made a product I didn't even know I was going for. I must have learned long ago as a child that wool ought to feel lofty like this. The only difference is that this wool is not nearly as scratchy.

January 14, 2010

Icelandic is filling up the Spindle

My Icelandic fibre is filling up the spindle. I am going to stop and ply now even though the amount is less than an ounce, my usual stopping point for singles spun to 40 wpi.

January 13, 2010

thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth skeins

Here are my thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth skeins.

Romney comb waste, from fibre raised on Vancouver Island.
The dyed skein is 1 3/8 ounces, 76 yards, about 9 wpi.
The undyed skeins are 1 1/8 ounces, 90 yards, about 12 wpi, and 1 1/4 ounces, 96 yards, 12 wpi.

January 12, 2010

Silly Snag

I wore a sweater while spinning the other day. The single I was spinning happened to catch the sweater cuff. I was rather surprised to find my sleeve contributing fibre to the single.

January 11, 2010

Plying Template

In the Spin Off article, "Two heads are better than one, or A story with a good twist," by Lee Kirschner, December 1984, p 42-44, the author mentions a plying template: "It looked like a 5" donut with three holes evenly spaced around the resulting wooden ring."

You run three singles through and attach them to a leader, you poke fingers through to hold the template and keep a little tension on the singles, and you let the singles meet to form three-ply yarn.

The author based the template on an old rope-making tool.

I made one out of plastic.

I discovered that holding the plying template did not allow me to stop and pinch the yarn in order to wind the yarn onto the spindle.

For about a yard, the plying template did allow the singles to meet well in a balanced yarn.

Then the tension was lost when I went to wind on. The yarn snarled badly and I concluded that a plying template needs continuous wind on as provided by a spinning wheel with a flyer.

I could have cut the singles, removed the template, and done my plying without it. However, when I looked at the yarn, I found that the dyed single looked diminished and uninteresting combined with two natural singles. I think the dyed single would look much better by itself in two ply.

January 09, 2010

Close to the end of the Romney Singles

I'm getting close to the end of the Romney fibre. I'm cramming quite a lot onto the poor spindle.

Here you can see both the rolled up layers of fibre and the last half a roll that I pre-drafted for spinning.

January 08, 2010

second ear warmer band

I knit an ear warmer band out of what was left of the twentieth skein when I knit my fifth hat.

The hat was a good fit so I cast on the same number of stitches for the ear warmer band. I knit K1P1 in the round on double pointed needles until most of the wool was gone.

For the length of one needle, I bound off stitches while catching up the corresponding stitches on the other edge to join the edges and double the thickness. I bound off the rest of the stitches by themselves. This makes for a wide band around most of the head and a narrow band behind the head for comfort.

If the wind is strong, the band can be doubled all around for more warmth.

I produced ladders again where the needles met. I pulled my second stitch tightly and managed only to create one laddered run and a line of tight stitches.

I stopped producing ladders when I took a tip from a knitting book* and worked an extra two stitches at the end of every needle. This way the loose stitch was offset in a spiral around the band as I went.

I almost ran out of wool. Catching up stitches and knitting them together took uncomfortable effort, so I really didn't want to undo that work. Fortunately since the edges were knit together, the loose yarn from the cast on was in the right position for me to use it to bind off stitches. I eeked out it and the working yarn until they met.

*I think the book was Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting without Tears.

January 07, 2010

Blending Colours in the Romney

Happy Distaff Day!

I pre-drafted the rolled layers of teased Romney fibre in order to create a subtle blend of colours. I like this better than the harsh transitions I got from the compact rolled layers. I'll probably discard the harsh-coloured section when I go to ply.

January 06, 2010

Prepping the Romney Combed Waste

Here's a photo of the Romney combed waste prepared for spinning.

I expected from the outset that, by using comb waste, I'd get a rather irregular and inconsistent spun yarn. The following are steps I took to compensate and get as smooth and strong a single as possible.

I picked out as many broken lock tips and little balls of short snarled fibres as I could. The point of combing is to leave tips and noils behind on the comb, so comb waste is peppered with them. Any left in will create slubs on the spun yarn and become pills on the final fabric.

I teased the remaining fibres very loosely into thin layers, stacked layers, and rolled them.

I ran into more than one clump of combed waste with very short fibres left from an initial pass with the comb. I made a layer of the short fibres. I took a clump with a longer fibres and made a layer out of that clump. I put one over the other and rolled the layers up to distribute the fibres throughout.

The first photo shows undyed fibres. Doesn't the layer's thinness and the dark background show off the missed noils in the centre nicely? In the second photo you can see the mishmash of dyed fibres.

January 05, 2010

An Overly Colourful Spun Cheapskate Romney Single

The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold
-John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes
The weather has been very cold and windy, and my BFL ear warmer band has come in handy.

Some of the Romney combing waste that I am spinning is dyed. I used the cherry and lemonade flavours of a drink mix that's popular for non-toxic dyeing. Came out with purple, yellow, light blue, light blue-green, and acid yellow.

I ditched the acid yellow and combined the rest by teasing out the fibres and placing each thin layer over the next. The layers get rolled up, then I randomly manipulate the fibres as needed to space out the colours.

Here's how the combination is spinning up into the third single. I am of two minds over whether the result is cheerful or in really poor taste.

January 04, 2010

Spinning More Cheapskate Romney Singles

I took the first single off the spindle and wrapped it by hand onto a bobbin, then spun some more.

You might be able to see some yellow discolouration. This is how the wool came, unprepared except for skirting and scouring, and undyed. Perhaps if I had had more wit and foresight, I could have blended the discoloured bits in and made the yellow less noticeable. However, I just spun it as it came and I'm okay with that.

January 02, 2010

Spinning Cheapskate Romney Yarn

After combing out the Romney fibre and giving it as a gift, I was left with enough waste combings to fill a paper grocery sack.

I am teasing out the fibres. I'm pulling out the obvious noils, hopelessly dirty tips, and second cuts. And (you knew this was coming) I'm spinning the Romney up. Here you can see the first single in progress. Fuzzy, isn't it?

I plan to do three-ply for a change, because a single made from short and random fibres is not the strongest.

January 01, 2010

fifth hat, a K1P1 Watch cap

Knitted a K1P1 stitch watch cap out of the nineteenth and twentieth skeins.

The knitted cast on worked beautifully again, and I successfully tried out a slip, slip, knit (SSK) decrease. Had to look up how SSK is done in continental knitting. The effort and effect were worth it.

Laddering appears wherever one double point needle (dpn) ended and the other began. The dpns help me keep track of where to make the decreases, so I want to keep using them but I also want to eliminate the laddering. Blocking didn't do much. Will have to concentrate on pulling the second stitch on the needle tightly the next time I knit in the round. Someday I'll probably get a set of circular needles.