Mountain Sapphires Sweater Done!!

Mountain Sapphires Cardigan

Mountain Sapphires Cardigan

I have finished the sweater I created from the Mountain Sapphires Art Batts! I’m just taking a moment to bask in that….

It’s so beautiful. It fits. The colors are sweet. It’s warm and not scratchy.

This is the fiber that I started spinning back in April when I was color-starved and ready for something fun. It took me about 2 months to knit after the yarn was spun, and another month to motivate myself to sew the seams and get the buttons on.

The only thing I am not 100% happy about is the collar – it isn’t as wide as I thought it would be in terms of how it lies, but it’s OK. I am thinking about a couple of things that might help with that, but even if I leave it I am happy enough.

On the spinning front, I’m nearly done with the milk fiber. I’ve got a pretty good handle on how to work with it, and as soon as I ply it (and confirm that I really know what I’m doing 🙂 I will post a spinners’  tech-tips post.

SAFF is coming up at the end of the week, so I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage to Asheville, NC to enjoy that. Can’t wait! I’ll be posting all about it.

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Creative Play 

This week I have started a new daily practice – creative play. It’s meant to knock the mind loose, think differently, push boundaries. Proceed when the results are unknowable. Have fun.

To help me with this, I’m using Keri Smith’s book Mess (link takes you to her shop). Today’s fun involved glue, paper, scissors, gravity, and air currents.

     

 

    

 

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Tricky, Tricky Milk Fiber

I have a few days practice now with the Milk Fiber. It’s trickier than it seemed that first time I posted about it.

The 2-ply I did first came out OK, done via the Andean bracelet method. The next day I spun 6 grams and tried a 3-ply using Navajo plying. It was a miserable failure. I didn’t think it was particularly slubby, but in the context of this fiber I was dead wrong. Because it’s so slippery, each slub fell apart under the stress on the singles that goes with this particular plying method. I was very frustrated, because overall I liked the 3-ply better than the 2-ply in the parts that worked.

So, now I am spinning the remainder FAR more carefully, with serious vigilance to prevent slubs as much as I possibly can. I’m not going to Navajo-ply it, but still. I divided it into 3 equal-by-weight chunks, and each will go on its own bobbin for plying.

The pictures show not-too-slubby (left) and too-slubby (right). I check this by letting the singles twist back on itself before feeding it to the bobbin. While spinning, I can go back and fix too-slubby at this point. I’m reasonably good at feeling even little slubs and taking care of them before it’s too late.

Until next time. 

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I Am Not Dead… Still Here, Still Spinning

Milk Fiber

Milk Fiber

I’ve neglected you terribly. My last post about spinning was when I started the Crosspatch Creations Art Batts back in April. As I spun that gorgeous fiber, I realized that it deserved to become something that I could wear and enjoy for years. So – sweater it is. I did not have enough raw fiber for that, so I contacted the woman I bought it from at SAFF and got more. It has been really fun to spin and knit as I went. The sweater is mostly completed now – the front and back pieces are getting blocked right now, and when they are done I will sew the shoulder seams and knit on the collar and front button bands. Then it’s just adding the sleeves and doing the side seams.

Crosspatch Creations Handspun Sweater Parts

Crosspatch Creations Handspun Sweater Parts

My new spinning project is milk fiber. Yes, you read that right. Fiber made from milk protein. If you are interested, this blog post https://exchangingfire.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/what-is-milk-fiber/ has more information about the fiber and how it is created.

It’s beautiful. Also known as “milk silk,” it is very soft and has a lovely sheen. It’s a little slippery to work with, and wants a lot of twist. I found that using a VERY light tension on the take-up to the bobbin made it easier to spin. I bought it at SAFF last year from Roo (http://moonwoodfarm.com). She recommended that prior to spinning I should gently lengthen it out a little – not really pre-drafting, just loosening it up a bit – so I did. I had read that this fiber can be clumpy to draft, and I think this helped avoid that.

In any case, I would not recommend it for beginners. For my first sample, I did a two-ply yarn. I’ll do another sample as three-ply, and see which I like better.

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I have died and gone to button heaven

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Here at Mulberry Silks in Carrboro NC.

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Art Batts!!

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Gorgeous.

That’s the first word that comes to mind about my new spinning project.

I finished my last project, the spinning and Navajo ply of BFL/Silk. I’m happy with the results, the practice was good. I learned that my primary issue was the tension on the bobbin holding the singles – once that was loose enough, the process was easy and the result was perfectly balanced.

But now I’m ready for more COLOR!! So I have started on a brilliantly hued art batt from Crosspatch Creations that I bought at SAFF last fall. The colors are amazing. The fiber (wool, silk, and viscose) is sweet and soft, and has beautiful silk noils that pop both color and texture in the singles. I’m spinning it at 8:1, and fairly thin, so the inclusions and colors really stand out. The picture speaks for itself.

Until next time.

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Time to Navajo Ply

For my new spinning project, I am spinning to really focus on the plying. One way to make striped yarns is to avoid the barber-pole effect you get from fractal spinning and have clean color changes. To do THAT, the best plying technique is Navajo plying (aka chain plying). This technique uses one spun singles to make a 3-ply yarn by chaining back on itself.

I’ve done this before, but I’m not very good at it. The correct tension eludes me and I end up with overplied yarn that is not balanced and has to be fixed. So I’m devoting a whole 8-ounce braid of BFL-silk blend fiber to practice on. The color changes are subtle – champagne and dusty rose – and the silk shows as light-colored streaks. As you can see in today’s picture, it’s quite pretty.

Another fun thing you can do with this technique is add beads into the yarn as you ply it. I haven’t decided if I want to do that this time, because it interrupts the process that I want to focus on. So maybe I’ll save that for a future project.

Until next time.

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BitterSweet

thumb__MG_7828_1024No big changes in life happen without mixed emotions. At least, none of mine ever have. This time is no different.

I’ve just retired from my job of 17 years. Last Tuesday (March 1) was my last day there. I’ve planned this for a long time. Discussed with husband, looked at financials, projected costs for stuff like health insurance, played with various dates for retiring vs. starting my pension payout (lucky enough to have one of those!), and hung in there when fear cropped up.

While I’m completely happy about my decision, I still walked around those last few days with sadness in my heart. Not for the job, really, so much as for people I am leaving behind. I worked with some very smart, wonderful people. I will miss the intellectual stimulation. The trade-off, though, is fabulous. My time and energy are mine now, for the pursuits I want to follow. And I still get to keep in touch with former coworkers though social media, getting together for lunch, and our knitting group.

At the moment, it still feels more like vacation than a new life. That will start shifting soon, I’m sure.

Until next time.

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It’s Not the Same, But It’s Good

I’ve finally settled in to the fiber I’m working with now, the merino-silk blend that I wrote about before. I’m keeping it pretty well at the diameter I want, and I’m accustomed once again to how it handles.

I finished the first two bobbins last week, and plied them. I was really hoping that the colors would match the merino-silk fiber I did last summer, as I want to knit this up as a sweater. It’s really hard to tell until you have a plied result to compare. So – do they match?

No. Phooey, sort of.

The new fiber has spun up darker and closer to a solid color than the other fiber. The good news is that they are in the same color family, and will look good knitted together in stripes. Especially if I use half-linen stitch, which blurs color changes and I think will be really lovely. I’ll swatch it to see.

Today’s picture shows skeins of the old (left) & new (right) together.

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Precision Drafting

I am reminding myself that I do this (spinning) because I like it. It’s fun and relaxing, at least most of the time. Why do I have to remind myself of this? Because right now, I’m a little frustrated.

I finished the sock yarn last weekend. I’m happy with the way it came out, and I learned some valuable lessons about spinning self-striping yarn. In particular, to create yarn with clean stripes and minimal barber-pole striping, it’s better to use Navajo plying than to try to come up with three singles that are even close to matching. Navajo plying creates a three-ply yarn from 1 singles, so there’s minimal overlap when the color changes. I didn’t do that. So I have lots of barber-poling, but I think it will be pretty when knitted up because the colors go well together.

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The Frozen Grapes sock yarn

The next project I’ve embarked on is sort of a continuation of one from last summer. If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you might remember that I spun a pound of merino-silk blend that had lots of beautiful colors in it. It was a good practice at spinning a large quantity of fiber at a consistent diameter.

At SAFF this year, I bought another pound of the same fiber, same colors. I love the way the first yarn came out, and if I spin this one the same diameter, I should have enough to knit a sweater. It has such a lovely feel. So that’s what I’m spinning now. I have my sample to compare to from last time, for consistent diameter. I thought it would be easy – after all, I’ve done this before, right?

Surprise! For whatever reason, I’m having a really hard time staying consistent and correct. The blend is slippery in a different way than the superwash sock fiber I just spun, and I’m spinning a lot thicker with it for this project. I’m just having to go slow and give myself time to “get it”. It’s a very fine line between too thick and too thin, and while too thick can be fixed, it requires care. Too thin has to be either accepted or tossed. The drafting has to be JUST right.

So I keep on, and remind myself that nobody dies if I make mistakes. It’s FUN. I LIKE it. This is PLAY.

Until next time.

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