Smiles and Sparkles with Knits and Spins

September was a month with lots of knitting and spinning on-the-go. I literally took a project with me to school, BSF, restaurants, and everywhere else. I am so done with hiding away one of my dearest past times passions for the sake of appearing conventional. I have truly enjoyed the liberation and made some new connections as a result.

Art blitz spinning

Spinning at Art Blitz in Valparaiso, Indiana with friends from Duneland Weaver’s and Spinner’s Guild

One of my favorite events was spinning at Art Blitz in Valparaiso, Indiana at an art school with my guild, Duneland Weaver’s and Spinner’s. There were lots of laughs and sharing of ideas.

IMG_2538

I met Cathy at the spin-in at the Sauder Village Fiber Fest in Archbold, Ohio

I also went to the Sauder Village Fiber Fest in Archbold, Ohio and participated in the Spin-in with Kate Larson and other spinners on retreat from all over Ohio. We had a good time. I can truly say I always find a friend with crafty people. There is a certain bond that is shared with people who like to create from raw material.

Along with the crafting in public I am proud to say I finally knit up something out of one of the crazy sparkly art batts that I’ve been hoarding lately. My Undercurrent cardigan is complete.

101_2424

I only had 12 ozs of the DKish weight yarn so I paired it with some white commercial silk that I had plied with dyed silk hankies long ago and forgot about. I think it works well. I used all of the art yarn and barely got away with a bind-off only having a silver dollar sized yarn ball left over, phew. I really love the fit of this pattern and how easy it is to knit. I could definitely use another, perhaps in a more conventional yarn. I must say though, I really don’t mind all the sparkles. I’m giving this project 5 stars.

BTW, spinning wise, I was able to get a 4 oz. skein spun up of oatmeal colored Sally Fox cotton on my new Lendrum Very Fast flyer. That thing is crazy fast and definitely beats out my Ashford Traveller lace flyer (which I have since sold). I finally purchased the fast whorl for my Kromski Symphony and plied the cotton singles quite efficiently at the 25:1 ratio it offers.

101_2419

New Fast Whorl on my Kromski Symphony does an excellent job plying high twist cotton

My mint chocolate chip spin is off the wheel. I added in some grey Shetland breed wool in order to stretch the 8oz into a nice sweater quantity. I now have a gradient-like set of skeins to work with.

101_2389

I’ve also spun up Hipstrings’ HillStreet District colorway and 8 ozs of grey Romney that is awaiting plying.

My latest spinning obsession is a tussah silk/flax blend I ordered from Inglenook Fibers in the Madras colorway. The plan is to hopefully get some weaving done one of these days this fall. I’m also spinning up 8ozs of recycled green sari silk on the Kromski Sonata which I hope to weave.

Advertisements

Spinning and Knitting, plus Scrappy Socks

A few months ago I unearthed a few old UFOs (unfinished objects) that I had stuck into ziplock baggies and forgotten about. They were basically project failures that I didn’t have the heart to unravel at the time. Among them are a couple of wannabe lace shawls, socks, convertible mittens, and alpaca gloves.

The socks were made from a skein of merino/nylon self striping  sock yarn in a ugly colorway.  I’ve quickly found that buying sock yarn for knitting socks is way too expensive for me. Most 100g skeins are in the $20 range which to me is ridiculous for socks. I’d rather turn the fancy yarn into an accessory.

The pattern that the partial sock was knit in was nice. After doing some searching around I figured out that it was a pattern from the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock Book called garter stitch heel sock. After adding 4 extra stitches I was able to knit a sock that fit.

I used the rest of the skein with a leftover ball of yellow sock yarn and made another sock using a simple slip stitch pattern and a spiral toe decrease.

The scrappy sock mojo kept going with some yarn I salvaged from a scarf found in the giveaway bin at school. I paired it with some scratchy gray wool that was frogged from the shawl project I wove earlier this year.

101_2056

I now have 3 new pairs of hand knit socks. Most of my fancy yarn scraps will probably be used in this way going forward. Using the fabulous stuff for cuffs and knitting the foot portion in tougher, undyed wool.

The spinning wheels have been humming quite a bit lately. The sparkly art rolags were spun up on my supported spindle A Handspun Spring. The resulting yarn was dark and muddy in my opinion. In order to lighten it up I plied it with the white bamboo singles that I had spun on my Ashford Traveler over the winter. The resulting yarn was surprisingly soft and draped despite the large amounts of sparkle Angelina fiber. It was like spinning a Brillo Pad in some sections. After using up all of my bamboo singles the rest of the yarn was chain-plied

The sparkle yarn was knit into a crescent shawl (my first) called As You Wish by Booknits  on Ravelry. I used the chain plied yarn for garter stitch ridges to add some punch to the now muted art-yarn.

101_1989101_1990101_1985

I am still hooked on the sparkle art batt craze. I spun up a 4oz batt called frosty rum drink in a lace weight and plied it on itself. It yielded about 550yards.

Apparently that’s not enough to settle my art batt obsession. I found an Etsy shop called Gargoylelover that sells artbatts in larger quantities (most are in small batts and the seller only has one for sale). I bought 12ozs of a colorway called Starry Night. It was so interesting to spin I finished it in 3 days. I have plans to knit a hoodie with it.

101_1991

At the moment I have another sparkle project on the knitting needles. I bought some handpainted sparkle yarn from and Indiana Indie dyers called GoodforEweyarns. It is light fingering lace weight. The plan is to knit my first cardigan on size 3 needles. So far so good. The pattern is called Emelie by Elon Berglund.

Finished Objects: Wheels spinning, Needles Clicking

I finished up spinning the 16ounces of llama fiber I began working on last month. Love It! It’s a little late in the season to start a project with it so I have decided to store it for later.

I really want to start working on plant fibers now for spring. We’ll see. I still have about 8oz of the golden merino left to spin lace-weight on my Kromski Symphony. Hopefully I can finish it soon. It has been on the wheel forever, like literally years.

I washed up the skeins that were recycled from some ugly knitted projects I made years ago and never wore. The skeins were hung to dry on a drying rack placed in my bathtub. They are now packed away awaiting a second chance at becoming something nice to wear.

101_1776

Hand Spun yarn skeins and sweater drying on a rack in the bathtub

I finished my Diminishing Rib Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2009 cover and I like it. I kind of haphazardly spun and chain-plied that roving maybe 8 years ago and packed it away thinking I didn’t like it only to fall in love after it was knit up. I believe it is Ashland Bay merino top in the rose colorway. Sometimes it’s hard to perceive how a yarn will look once it is knitted, crocheted, or woven.

The pattern did not call for a closure however I chose to crochet two pairs of ties on it. I also stabilized the neckline with  2 rows of chains stitches. I am not sure if I did the tubular cast-on correctly but it made the neckline more stretchy than I wanted. This is my first handspun garment. I’m pretty happy with the result.

101_1791

Diminishing Rib Cardigan made from handspun merino yarn

101_1790

I had not finished spinning my llama roving yet but I wanted to make another winter item. I had  2 skeins of  bulky Noro Kochoran yarn in the color #65 that I bought at a local yarn shop liquidation sale. The yarn was hard on my hands. It was difficult to slide on my needles (Knit Picks nickel plated circulars in size 8). Kochoran has angora bunny in it. It shed a lot as I worked with it however I think that has resolved itself now that it’s knit up. I should have went up to a size 9 as recommended on the yarn label. ouch.  I alternated it with some chain-plied handspun natural white cormo yarn.

101_1806

What began as the Welted Cowl published in Vogue knitting  winter 2010 morphed into a pretty nifty poncho as I changed up the amount of ribbed purled bands, completely disregarded gauge, and used up every last bit of the yarn I had. It is super, don’t need a coat, warm.

101_1803

Welted Poncho

101_1802

Welted Poncho paired with a hanspun angora fichu

Spinning My Wheels

I have been in a crafty frenzy lately. Every since Winter break I have been pulling out all of my fiber stuff that had been hibernating in the basement for years. I have since put my dining table in a closet (heck, I only host people twice a year) so that I can have a workspace in my well lit dining area. Yes..I am back in make-mode.

My spinning wheels are back in motion.

On the Ashford traveler I have some bamboo fiber which I carded up to spin. This is my first time spinning a significant quantity of it. I have found that it is best to open up the fibers, which are quite compressed in raw form, with a drum carder. This makes it easier to card it into a spinnable cloud with 120 point fine hand carders. I do not make punis with the bamboo like I do my cotton. It tends to be sticky and somewhat hard to draft when compressed. I just recently discovered that the uncarded fiber is being sold rather cheaply as a pillow stuffing at JoAnne Fabrics. If I like the finished product I will certainly be getting more.

The Kromski Symphony has some golden merino top on it. I bought about 16oz of this fiber maybe 3 years ago in hopes of making a sweater with it. Perhaps it will finally make its way into a finished product. We’ll see. First things first, gotta get the yarn spun. It should be about 24wpi when I finish plying it. I am not terribly worried about the final yarn weight. I usually just let the fiber do what it wants.

I finished up 4oz of spot dyed merino top on the Kromski Sonata. It had literally been on the bobbin for years. I ended up with about 450yards of 2ply fingering weight yarn in a surprisingly pastel skein. I’m not sure what I will do with it.

I visited Baker Studios in Allegen, Michigan over winter break. I liked the shop owner so much that I decided to buy some locally produced llama roving. I have avoided purchasing a lot of wool since the major moth attack that nearly wiped out my entire stash of handspun yarns back in 2010. The roving is really soft to spin and has a grayish, magenta, purplish, with a little sparkle vibe going. I have 16oz. So far I have 8oz plied and am working on the rest. It takes me about 3hours to spin 4 ounces of singles. Plying takes me about half the time.

With all the spinning and carrying on I was inspired to get my knitting needles clicking again. I have a set of Knit Picks nickel-plated interchangebles.  The project I chose is the Diminishing Rib Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2009.

I actually had 3 sweater quantities of yarn spun up at the time of the moth attack. The one yarn spun from commercial roving was spared by the moths. I believe commercially produced wool is treated with insecticide.

Anyhow, I had  bought about 16oz of Ashland Bay merino top in the rose colorway and spun it up. It has some blues and purples going through it. I didn’t really like it that much at first but now that I have begun to knit with it I think the different colors blended in give it a painterly effect. One of the skins has some dark pink/red splotches on it from when I washed the skins with other yarns during the moth recovery effort. Oh well. We’ll have to see how it works with my skin tone.

101_1759

I Navajo, or chain plied this yarn so it’s a 3ply. This was my first yarn plied in this way and it has lots of thick and thin spots and overspun curly pigtails sticking out here and there.  So far so good on the knitting. Please let this thing fit! It is my first hand knit cardigan.101_1763

Sew Almost Victorian

gatzpI went to another murder mystery dinner a few weeks ago. As with the first one , I saw it as another excuse to sew.Fumbling through my first year of teaching has got me pretty strapped for playtime these days but I was determined to make my outfit. The theme this year was Victorian. I knew I wouldn’t worry myself with making something absolutely historically correct. I figured a lot of people would go with the steampunk style that is so popular right now so I aimed for something in between.

The Vogue 1132 vest I made a few years ago with the ruffle in the back immediately came to mind. It sort of reminds me of a bustle. The plan was to add a long skirt and badabing! I’d be victorianesk.

Peplum vest back

Vogue 1132 Peplum vest back

 

 

 

I found some shimmery, embossed velvety, polyester fabric from JoAnne fabrics for $3 and decided to make the Vogue vest with the flounced skirt from McCall’s 6770.Mccalls steampunk

Embossed polyester fabric. Not bad for $3 per yard.  My sister had these victorianesk shoes in her closet for some reason.

Embossed polyester fabric. Not bad for $3 per yard.
My sister had these victorianesk shoes in her closet for some reason.

I cutout both vest and skirt but ran out of steam after sewing the skirt. It went together nicely, but took me a while.

The skirt was easy to sew with only 3 pattern pieces. Hemming the flounce took forever.

The skirt was easy to sew with only 3 pattern pieces. Hemming the flounce took forever.

The lazy bones in me just thought well I don’t have to have the matching skirt and vest do I? I tried the skirt on with the houndstooth vest I made a couple years ago (it needed alterations on the side seams because whatdoya know, I lost weight!) and thought hey, this looks almost Victorian.20160312_185117

For accessories I pulled out a little ascot I knitted from a yarn of  blended angora and ramboullet fiber I handspun. The pattern is from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007.

handspun ramboullet /angora blend ascot from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts

handspun ramboullet /angora blend ascot from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007

It is still cold here in Indiana (like seriously today it snowed) so I decided to wear my favorite shawl. It is the most complicated and time consuming one I have made to date. I finished it back in 2008-2009. The yarn is a commercial millspun tencel that has a really nice, silky drape to it. The pattern is Pretty As a Peacock by Some Knitting Required.

Showing off my Pretty as A Peacock shawl made from Some Knitting Required pattern

Showing off my Pretty as A Peacock shawl made from the Some Knitting Required pattern

IMG_0244

Until next time..Cherrio!

Keeping Sockupied

Gosh, I haven’t knitted anything in a while. What better way to get my knitting mojo back than to whip up a pair of socks?

I have a confession to make. One would think that someone that has spun countless 4oz skeins of yarn would have made a gazillion pairs of socks by now. Nope. Not me. Master of None. I have a tendency to move on after I figure out a new technique.

Although I know how to make socks and have lots of yarn; my hand knit sock collection consists of 2 pairs of socks. One pair knit from the top down and another pair knit from the toe up. One turned heel and one short-row heel. They were knit from commercial yarn, not even handspun. No tomatoes please. I promise I’ll do better.

My first pair of hand knit socks ever.

My first pair of hand knit socks ever.

My first top down sock. This is one of only two pairs of socks I've knit in the last 7 years

My first top down sock. This is one of only two pairs of socks I’ve knit in the last 7 years

After 7 years, I finally finished another pair of socks.

Blue handspun socks in progress.

Blue handspun socks in progress.

Might as well wear them

Might as well wear them

finished pair of handspun socks..finally

finished pair of handspun socks..finally

Trying to keep the momentum going, I started a new pair

Trying to keep the momentum going, I started a new pair