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.

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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.

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Diminishing Rib Cardigan made from handspun merino yarn

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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.

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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.

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Welted Poncho

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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.

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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

A Spinners Milestone: Weaving with Handspun Yarn

I have been spinning yarn since 2005. My first experience with the luxury of working with natural fibers was after winning a gift certificate to Evelise’s Yarn Shop at the Berrien County Youth Fair . An Afghan that I had crocheted with acrylic yarn won Reserved Grand Champion.  With the gift certificate I bought my first designer yarn, a black cotton, and a pattern for a beaded crochet handbag. The bag was a success and I was in love.

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My first bag made with fancy commercial cotton yarn. Still sparkling after 16 years.

 

Unfortunately I could not afford to buy more natural yarns. I was over the cheapo acrylic and so I stopped crocheting. At college the following year I gained new hope of acquiring “good” yarn when a professor at my university did a show and tell with spinning equipment. I became fixed on the idea of spinning my own yarn.

Online I ordered a kit that came with a book , Spin It by  Lee Raven and 1oz of roving. The book had instructions on how to make a spindle out of a CD. With a pencil, CD, and the small bit of sliver I became a spinner. Shortly afterwards I learned to knit.

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The book that started it all.

I knitted a lot of lace shawls with my handspun. I love making them but that was all I would do with my yarn.  After a while I had way more yarn than projects I wanted to knit up. I kind of got bored.

For the longest time (12 years!) I was so afraid that my yarn wouldn’t be strong enough to weave with, especially my cotton. It was only safe to crochet with it.

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Crochet shawl made from hanspun cotton dyed with tumeric. The pattern is Moondrop by Lori Carlson published in Interweave crochet Winter 2016

A few years ago I had crocheted a ruffled throw with my natural colored cotton  See it here that I wasn’t all that happy with. I just kept crocheting in a round until I had used up all of the different colors of cotton in my stash. After a while it started to come apart  where I doubled the stitch count. I decided that I had nothing to lose by unraveling the throw to reuse the yarn for weaving.

I warped random colors on my Leclerc Dorothy table loom that I bought in my college days. With a simple plain weave I slowly but surely realized that my worries were unfounded. Without any special treatment I was able to weave an eclectic little scarf. Oh the new possibilities!

This week I met a new milestone. I am now using my handspun to weave!

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Finished handspun, handwoven natural colored cotton scarf. I’m in love!

Not wanting to lose momentum I decided to unravel a shawl I knit from handspun wool. I alternated a painted handspun with a natural gray that proved to be scratchy against my skin. The pattern was just mindless, uninspired blah. I wouldn’t miss it. Finding a darker grey rambouillet yarn in my handspun stash that was nice and soft  I began warping my Dick Blick Art Craft table loom. Sadly the loom sat untouched for 6 years. I found it at a garage sale in Amish country for $125 and thought it was too fine of a machine to pass up.

So far so good. I am looking forward to doing more with my handspun.

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Handspun wool weaving in progress. I am using stick shuttles because they give me more weaving space on a table loom.

 

Getting My crochet On

I had an itch to get some crocheting done. It began this summer and I ended up making some hats from one of my favorite books Get Your Crochet on by Afya Ibomu.get your crochet book They work up really quickly and the design possibilities are endless. My hats are a variation of her pattern since I decided to be cheap and substitute elastic for a drawstring.

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On! The shawl is self-knit from too long ago to remember what the pattern was. I made 2. This version is knit from Noro yarn.

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On!
The shawl is self-knit from too long ago to remember what the pattern was. I made 2. This version is knit from Noro yarn.

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On! Holds back the hair lika Pro!

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On! Holds back the hair lika Pro!

My version of the hat called MC from the Book Get your Crochet On! with drawstring in the back.

My version of the hat called MC from the Book Get your Crochet On! with drawstring in the back.

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My crochet hat collection

My crochet hat collection

A Gift: Putting My Handspun Cotton to Use

It has been a long time, like 5 years since I’ve done more time consuming needlework such as shawls. Once upon a season I was a knitting fiend and I knit about 30 shawls and scarves over the course of a 2 year span. Many of them were done with yarn I spun myself.

My crochet itch came back this winter and I found myself pouring over my crochet magazines looking for a shawl to crochet. It just dawned on me that I had never actually crocheted a shawl before this latest project. The majority of my projects were afghans and purses during my high school years. 13 years ago!

The material used for this project is extra special. I was on the SpinOff Magazine website about 4 years ago and found myself chatting with a cotton farmer from Texas. He emailed me last summer and offered to send me cotton and seeds from his farm. What a gift!!! I was so excited when 10 pounds of some of the best quality cotton I have ever worked with arrived at my home. Thanks Jack!! You’re my hero!

Gift from an awesome cotton farmer from Texas. 10lbs of premium cotton

Gift from an awesome cotton farmer from Texas. 10lbs of premium cotton

I immediately got to carding it up and spinning. I just spun a little here and there, only finishing a 2-ply lace weight skein this past  December.

Carding the Texas cotton

Carding the Texas cotton

Nice and fluffy, reading to spin after a little carding

Nice and fluffy, ready to spin after a little carding

Finished skein ready to wind into a ball

Finished skein ready to wind into a ball

winding the cotton yarn into a ball

winding the cotton yarn into a ball

I decided to crochet my first shawl, the Dragonfly by Lisa Naskrent. My version has a HDC border instead of the lace border that comes with the pattern. I didn’t have enough yarn for it and I did not want to halt my project while I spun more. Keep going while you have the steam! I like how it turned out. I think I will dye it eventually.

Dragonfly shawl variation of Lis Naskrent pattern (not blocked) natural cotton color

Dragonfly shawl variation of Lis Naskrent pattern (not blocked) natural cotton color

wearing the hand-spun cotton Dragonfly shawl..with pajamas;-)

wearing the hand-spun cotton Dragonfly shawl..with pajamas;-)

I enjoyed working this simple pattern so much that I started in on another one using a hand-dyed seasilk skein I spun years ago.

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My 2nd Dragonfly shawl in progress using a hand-dyed, hands-spun soysilk lace weight.

Update:2014 Indiana Cotton Crop

I am still obsessed with the idea of growing my own fiber for spinning and weaving. Living on a small city lot leaves me few options. Sheep  won’t work  here and flax needs special tools to process. Last year I was given a single cotton boll with seeds intact. I planted them in my kitchen that February. They grew!! Read here

I decided to plant more seeds this year. Read here.

The little cotton patch. There are about 26 small plants

The little cotton patch. There are about 26 small plants

When I put the seedlings outside in June they were very weak and spindly from lack of sunlight. They have since really perked up. There are plenty of blooms (by northern standards like 6 per plant) and 4 bolls of natual brown cotton have opened up so far.

The nodes where the cotton flowers bloom are forming underneath the leaves

The nodes where the cotton flowers bloom are forming underneath the leaves

A newly opened cotton bloom. It will only last 1 day then turn pink and fall off. The cotton boll forms underneath.

Here is a close up of one of the cotton bolls. It could be white or brown cotton when it opens up. I didn't mark the plants

Here is a close up of one of the cotton bolls. It could be white or brown cotton when it opens up. I didn’t mark the plants

I spotted the 1st boll open last week. It’s brown cotton

Close up of the 1st brown boll

Close up of the 1st brown boll

I found 3 more cotton bolls opened today. More brown.

I found 3 more cotton bolls opened today. More brown.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much cotton I will get this year since I planted twice as many seedlings.  At this point I can only grow them on the east side of my house so they do not get much space. The odds of me growing even 1 pound of cotton in northern Indiana are pretty slim. Nonetheless I will just as happy if I grow 3 ounces.  I should have enough to make a spectacular shawl when I combine the 2 years crops.

Cotton Seeds Sown, They know what to do

Last year I planted my first cotton seeds in my kitchen one frigid February, Indiana winter day. View Post. It was a lot of fun to watch the plants mature. I learned so much and at the end of it all I had useful fiber.

It took me a while to get around to spinning it up but I did finally get to it. I’m really happy with the result. The brown skein is especially interesting because there was a lot of shade/color variation in the crop that occurred naturally. To think they all descended from one gifted cotton boll with 21 seeds inside. Now I’m debating what to make with it.

Spinning  Cotton on my Ashford Traveller Wheel

Spinning Cotton on my Ashford Traveller Wheel

Bobbin full of white cotton yarn

Bobbin full of white cotton yarn

Winding Cotton Skeins

Winding Cotton Skeins

Skeins from 1st Crop

Skeins from 1st Crop

Finished skeins from first cotton crop

Finished skeins from first cotton crop

I found a straggler! It must've opened up over the winter.

I found a straggler! It must’ve opened up over the winter.

Of course I planted a new crop for this year. The kids from the youth ministry helped. Then my niece wanted to plant some too, so we planted more. I’m sure a gardener would cringe at our methods, those poor seeds.  The cool thing that I’m finding with cotton plants is they’re really hard to kill. Those seeds just know what to do! Even if you put too many in a whole and forget to cover them.

1 week old seedlings in my kitchen. Baby nephew is loving the new hiding place

1 week old seedlings in my kitchen. Baby nephew is loving the new hiding place

These cute little guys know just what to do.

These cute little guys know just what to do.

It's been pretty cloudy so far this spring so they are stretching for the sunlight.

It’s been pretty cloudy so far this spring so they are stretching for the sunlight.

My niece helped me pot the 2nd batch of seedlings

My niece helped me pot the 2nd batch of seedlings

About 1 month in, some of the plants have adult leaves coming in.

About 1 month in, some of the plants have adult leaves coming in.

 

So far so good

The Joy of Spinning…in Public

Although I have crafted textiles for a long time many people that know me have never seen me work. Most crafters rarely work in public. If we do, it’s usually with a small knitting group.

After all that fun I had at the living history event I realized how much I enjoy engaging the public about crafting. Especially spinning yarn. So many people are fascinated by the process. I love demonstrating the process, and letting people feel the different fibers. Most rewarding of all is persuading people to try spinning and teaching them on the spot.

A piece of the new spinner's yarn. I'm so proud of how well they did with just a few minutes of instruction

A piece of a new spinner’s yarn. I’m so proud of how well they did with just a few minutes of instruction

Ever the dreamer, I envisioned teaching lots of people to spin so I ordered 48 drop spindles.

I ordered 48 drop spindles in hopes of  teaching people to spin

I ordered 48 drop spindles in hopes of teaching more people to spin

Who does that? right.

It is too cold right now for me to attend outdoor living history events so I decided to pack up my spinning wheel and some fiber and spin at the St. Joseph Public library. Thankfully a wonderful crafty friend came with me. It was a hit. We had so much fun and met so many people that I decided to make it my Sunday community outreach.

Today was an especially awesome Sunday. I had 4 girls come and learn to spin! I should have brought more than two spindles. They picked up the skill extremely fast and are already talking about what they want to make. We even had a new weaver friend come and show us some of her beautiful brocaded trim. (I will try to get a picture to share next time). Next week I’m going to show the girls how to dye their yarn with sharpie markers and alcohol.

We can dye the small amounts of yarn with Sharpie markers and alcohol

We can dye the small amounts of beginner’s yarn with Sharpie markers and alcohol

I made small dots on the yarn with Sharpie markers. Sprinkling alcohol on the yarn will spread the colors and set the dye

I made small dots on the yarn with Sharpie markers. Sprinkling alcohol on the yarn will spread the colors and set the dye

Sharpie marker dyed yarn

Sharpie marker dyed yarn. Reminds me of Tie Dye