Tag Archives: handspun

Journal: 16 March 2015

Things I have been up to lately

Things I have been up to lately

Since my last post, I: finished the mitts with my Christmas-present yarn, made a few new tatted bracelets, finished plying my hand-spun yarn, started knitting a shawl(ette) with it, chugged away on my Sierpinski blanket and my big green scarf, dyed some things, and did a bunch of mending that really needed to be done but ate into my creative crafting time.

The mitts are pictured above; not much to say on the topic. I’m pretty pleased with how they came out, mostly because of how warm and soft/smooth the yarn is.

Bracelets:

Two of them are this pattern, and the one in the middle is a pattern I’ve yet to post. I’ve been playing with color a bit; I’m really pleased with how the blue/yellow one turned out but less pleased with the blue/black one.

I finished plying my handmade yarn, and am pleased to report that the three-plying method using long crochet-like chains worked really well. I almost immediately cast on a knitting project with the yarn: a top-down triangular shawl based on this (knitting fool link) lace stitch. I’m hoping that I’ll have enough for a reasonable shawl/shawlette; I was too excited about casting on to bother with details like measuring out my yardage. I’m working from the outside (gray) in (towards purple), despite winding the yarn in a center-unwinding ball. Partly this is because of the colors and partly because my spinning gauge was still totally inconsistent, meaning the purple end is considerably thinner than the gray. I’m hoping it’ll look nice and like the shawl is fading prettily away, and not get all warped and sad and look like I am bad at spinning. We’ll see; wish me luck! Photos:

tea_dye

Dyed tatting, with reference pieces

I conducted a dyeing experiment using tea on some tatted things; shown at right are the tatted bit I dyed purple a few weeks ago, three bits I stained with tea, and bracelets made of the same thread and undyed to serve as a color reference. The tan one, of course, started out white. Not much happened; the tan of the formerly white one is reasonably lovely, the rainbow is a little less intense, and the “ocean” colorway thread just turned muddy. My verdict is I may do this to white pieces but should probably stop overdyeing things that already have color to them.

Sad re-dyed shirt

Sad re-dyed shirt

Speaking of which, after my rather successful re-dyeing of a shirt discussed in my last post, I was pretty confident and ready to dye my blue patchwork shirt that also got pink-splotched in the same wash load. I’m heartily disappointed in the results, shown at right; I think it’s obvious that it was amateurishly dyed over, it’s terribly splotchy right in the center front, and it just doesn’t look very good. I haven’t even had the heart to try it on and preen in front of a mirror yet, which is a bad old sign. I’m going to at least try it on, and depending how I’m feeling may pick up some black dye and see what happens, but as like as not will just throw it out (or leave it in my dresser to slowly migrate to the bottom of a drawer in shame). Ah well; fortunately I picked up some nice blue fabric at the store to make a new patchwork shirt, once I get through my backlog of sewing.

In more happy news, my Sierpinski blanket is coming along well and is over half-finished; photo:

Sierpinski blanket in progress

Sierpinski blanket in progress

Advertisements

Journal: New drop spindle edition

Drop spindle and some gorgeously dyed wool

Drop spindle and some gorgeously dyed wool

I’ve got some other crafting things going on, but today I just want to quickly talk about my shiniest new toy: I went to my first-ever fiber festival last weekend, and while there picked up a drop spindle and some wool and learned to spin.

Such sad yarn!

Such sad yarn!

Fortunately the spindle came with an ounce of practice wool, so the worst of my learning mistakes happened in free, undyed wool that I didn’t care too much about. And boy, were there learning mistakes: my first batch of yarn has over-spun kinks, under-spun fluffy sections, and huge variation in thickness from point to point. I’m glad I saw the spinning demonstration before buying my spindle: the person spinning talked about how everyone’s first batch is what she jokingly calls “art yarn”, and said most people are doing much better within a half-hour of starting. I guess I am a bit behind the curve, as that first batch was all pretty bad and took rather more than a half-hour, but I’m okay with that. Anyway, as soon as I was done spinning I 2-plied the yarn and knit it up into a test swatch; photos:

Despite being only 2-ply I’d guess the yarn is somewhere around aran weight, albeit varying quite a bit. I used size 10 needles because the 8’s I started with were just not cutting it. Y’all may have noticed I’m a big fan of finer yarns, so knitting this up was somewhere between an interesting novelty and torture. All the same, I’m proud of myself.

Dyed wool roving. I've already spun up a section of gray

Dyed wool roving. I’ve already spun up a section of gray

While at the festival I also picked up some nice wool to motivate myself—a gorgeously multicolor blue-faced leicester wool by Dizzie Lizzies Handpaints. It’s spinning up a lot better, partly because my skill has improved and partly I think because the wool has less oil in it, or finer fibers, or something. I wasn’t really thinking clearly, so I only picked up one batch, so the plying process is going to be interesting, matching different colors together. In future I think I will stick to spinning single-color rovings, and likely doing more dyeing myself, but this roving certainly worked as intended to motivate me to get through the practice wool.

One thing that bears commenting on is the physicality of spinning, at least with a drop spindle, compared to my other crafts. I actually gave myself a blister the first time out (and chucked a bandaid on it and kept spinning anyway), but that appears to have been due to poor technique rather than anything else. Something that’s persisted is that after spinning for a while my arms get tired: with knitting, sewing, tatting, embroidering or crochet I can curl comfortably on the couch and keep my elbows down, but the drop spindle requires me to sit straight on the edge of a chair and keep both arms elevated for long periods. I’m definitely seeing the appeal of a spinning wheel, both for ergonomic and time-saving reasons, though I don’t have any plans to get one for the foreseeable future.