Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Think Pink

I spent part of Sunday afternoon and part of the evening plying up the pink singles from the Gourmet Stash punis. The nice thing about a small amount of fiber is that it doesn't take very long to ply! I did minimal finishing on the skein because I was impatient -- I just let it soak in my bathroom sink in some hot water for about half an hour. When I took it out, there was a lot of pink in the water, but the yarn still seemed just as vibrant. I put my hands in the middle of the skein and snapped it several times to distribute the twist, and it pretty much behaved. By yesterday morning, the skein was dry.

I absolutely love this skein. It's two ply and mostly laceweight (though there are some spots where there were some slubs that border on light fingering), and it's roughly 165 yards. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, given the low yardage, but I have another ounce of punis in a pale pink, so perhaps I'll spin up another skein to match.

I also started another spindle project on Saturday for the Tour de Fleece challenge day, though I'd say it's unlikely it'll get done by the end of the week. I had an ounce of pure Tussah silk from Blue Moon Fiber Arts that I bought at my first MDSW (that would be in 2011) that I was afraid to spin until now. I started spinning it on my wee Turkish spindle, which is always fun to spin.


This is one of those spinning projects that I expect I'll pick up every now and then and spent a few minutes on before putting it away again. It's a relaxing little spin, but not one I'm feeling terribly rushed to finish.

My main goal for the week ahead is to finish my last skein for the Tour, a three-ply fingering weight from Fat Cat Knits Falkland in Gentiane. Last night I finished the first bobbin.

I figure that if I can get the other two bobbins finished in the next four days, then I can have it all plied and finished by Sunday. It's a shame I can't count all the treadling I'm doing toward my daily step count!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Got Sparkle?

I was up late on Friday night because I had to finish plying this skein:

This is the yarn that I've been spindling the past couple of weeks. I bought a set of mini batts at MDSW this year from Hobbledehoy. There were eight total, four blue and four green. I decided to spin them as a gradient, from light to dark, and then ply the two colors together. This niddy noddy shot shows the progression:

Though the yarn isn't perfectly even (there was a fair bit of texture in the batts), overall, it's laceweight and 350 yards. I suspect that there may have actually been a bit more than 2 oz. of fiber, and there was certainly more blue than green, because the green ran out long before the blue. But I managed to get every last bit of singles into the skein, and I'm very pleased with it.

I also finished up the rest of the hot pink singles from my Gourmet Stash punis yesterday and wound them off the spindle.

These singles will be plied on my Lendrum, in part because my Bosworth Mini (on which the singles were spun) suffered a pretty major injury while I was spinning. I dropped it at one point when the singles broke -- this happens from time to time and explains why it's called a drop spindle. Normally, this isn't a problem, but this time, the whorl completely loosened and now can move freely on the shaft. That's not really supposed to happen, but I got in touch with Sheila Bosworth on Ravelry and she suggested I send it back so that Jonathan (the maker of the spindles) can take a look at it and, I hope, fix it. Fortunately, it wasn't serious enough that I couldn't keep spinning and finish the project -- but what would the Tour de Fleece be without an equipment malfunction?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fun with Neon

It took three separate plying sessions, but I finally finished my Boogaloo!

After skeining it up, I realized why it took so long to ply. Even after the shrinkage that comes with washing, this skein is roughly 422 yards of three ply, and it's definitely on the light side of fingering. That is more than enough for a pair of socks for me.

I was a little surprised that the yarn didn't end up being as bright as I thought it might be. I think what happened is that the black and dark purple ended up so well distributed (at least in the second bobbin) that almost all of the skein has at least one dark ply. I still really like it, but I think if I ever spin this colorway again, I'll take a completely different approach: split the length of the top into thinner strips, spin the whole 4 oz., and then chain ply to get bright stripes.

After I finished plying, I started my next bundle of Fat Cat Knits fiber, Falkland in Gentiane. This will also be a three-ply fingering weight, if all goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, I've finished up the last of the Hobbledehoy battlings on my spindle and wound all the singles off onto my low-tech "storage bobbins" (aka empty toilet paper tubes), and last night I started plying. I'm using my Lendrum to ply and finding that these singles are a lot finer than I realized. Hello, laceweight!

For my lunchtime spinning, I pulled out my Gourmet Stash punis and my Bosworth mini, a project I started probably back in May.

How can you not love this pink?

I did do a bit of knitting at knit night last night (swatching for a design submission), and it felt really good to be holding needles again. I do love spinning, but knitting is still my first love, so I think I need to get back to it soon -- it's a good thing that the Tour de Fleece is only three weeks long! I will be child free for part of the coming weekend, as Rainbow is going to her grandparents' for a sleepover, so I'm hoping to use at least some of the quiet time to try to put the finishing touches on the green shawl design that you saw so long ago. I've done all the charts, but I need to check that I didn't make any mistakes in going from the hand-drawn charts to the computer. Then I have to finish writing up the pattern, get it laid out, and get it to my tech editor. I am hoping to have it all done and ready for testing sometime next month. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Rest for the Busy

Today is technically a rest day for the Tour de Fleece (as it's a rest day for the Tour de France), but seeing as tomorrow is knit night and I'm likely to spend the night knitting rather than spinning, I figured I might as well get in more spinning tonight. Besides, I have a skein to finish plying up!

I had hoped to finish this last night, but it was not to be. This is my Fat Cat Knits Boogaloo, which is being plied into a three-ply fingering weight yarn. Even plying onto my miniSpinner, it's taken me two evenings of spinning to get this far. I can see the core of the bobbin on at least one of the three, though, which means the end is in sight. I'm hopeful that I can finish plying, skein the yarn, and get it washed so it'll be dry by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm closing in on the end of my spindle project. I just finished the third of four green batts, and I'm hoping to have all four spun up by tomorrow.

I am planning to ply the yarn on a wheel because I really don't care much for plying on a spindle (at least not more than a tiny amount). I find that it's too hard on my wrists to support all the weight, and I will admit I'm not the best at winding a cop when there's that much yarn involved.

If all goes my way, I should have at least one finished skein to show you in my next post!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tour de Fleece, Weekend 2

I didn't spin nearly as much this weekend as last, in part because we were out and about (and the hot and humid weather we've had the past two days was not at all conducive to spindling). Nevertheless, progress was made.

I finished the last bobbin of singles of my Fat Cat Knits superwash merino/nylon in Boogaloo:

and now I have three bobbins ready to be plied:

And I finished up the first green batt on the spindle:

I hope to have at least one finished skein to show you this week!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Not a Stitch

As I predicted, I have not knit a stitch since the start of the Tour de Fleece. I thought I would feel all twitchy about that by now, but I'm surprisingly content with spinning only for the time being. I have been sitting at my wheel every evening and have been making excellent progress.

After finishing up the first skein of the Tour in the first two days, my progress has slowed somewhat. That's partly due to the fact that I have fewer hours each day to spin during the week compared to the weekend, but I'm also spinning finer singles now. I am currently on bobbin 2 of 3 of singles for a three-ply sock yarn. The fiber is Fat Cat Knits superwash merino/nylon in the colorway Boogaloo (quite possibly the most fun colorway name to say ever).

The colors in this fiber are just amazing, and it's so much fun to watch them change. As you can see, last night I wound up in the middle of a large section of hot pink.

Meanwhile, I've been spindling during my lunch break at work. It seems that between Tours I forget how much I enjoy spinning on a spindle; I really should do it more often. It's been a very stressful week at work, and it's amazing how much 45 or so minutes of spindling in the middle of the day can relax me. I am working my way through the Hobbledehoy "battlings" I bought at MDSW this year; I decided to spin the four blue batts and the four green batts in color progression (from light to dark) and then ply them together. I nearly finished up the fourth and final blue batt today.

As much as I love all this spinning, I think I will need to get back to my knitting needles again soon, even if it's just to do a little knitting. I do have knit night next week, so perhaps that will be the time.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Very Best Kind of Socks

While I'm busy spinning everything in sight, I do have a related FO to share with you. These were finished last Thursday, finally, after being in progress since late April. I think they're very appropriate for this time of year considering that they're handspun!

You may recall that I spun up the yarn (from CosySpins Falkland that I bought locally in November) in the middle of the winter when I was really craving something springlike. I decided to knit it up into a basic pair of socks, but with a twist.

Lately I've been interested in doing simultaneous heel flaps and gusset increases for handspun socks, in part because after the heel is turned, you work what is essentially another flap under the heel to decrease away the extra stitches. I've usually maintained the slip-stitch pattern that's used in the heel flap in this section for added durability. The twist this time around was that instead of putting in the increases on either side of the instep stitches, I put them in the middle of the instep. The result is that Y shape on the foot, and they actually fit pretty well because that section kind of hugs the foot.

My favorite part about knitting handspun socks is that you never quite know what will happen with the colors. As luck would have it, the reddish section at the beginning of the first sock aligned almost exactly with the length of the ribbing -- that was totally unintentional!

These socks will likely get a lot of wear next winter. This was my first time using Falkland for sock yarn, and it resulted in a nice, squishy fabric that should be fairly durable as long as I'm not too hard on them.

Meanwhile, I finished my first skein for the Tour de Fleece. This is Fat Cat Knits Polwarth in Mon Ami that was dyed as a gradient. I split it for a fractal spin (split in half lengthwise and then split one half in half again); that means one ply goes through the color sequence once and the other ply goes through the sequence twice.

I ended up with approximately 332 yards of two ply that's somewhere between fingering and sport. And I love it!