I decided last week to knit a lace shawl. Because, you know, quarantine!
Here are the things I’m learning in the process:
1) I must not wait until the end of an entire repeat to count my stitches. Having to go back more than about 10 or 12 stitches to fix an error is just asking for trouble.
2) I am allowed to put stitch markers wherever I like instead of (only) between each pattern repeat.
3) Yarn-overs were invented by a trickster god who laughs hysterically every time a knitter misses one or drops one by accident.
4) “Total focus” is just the starting point for the level of concentration required for success in this endeavor.
5) At the rate I’m progressing, we will be past the third or fourth wave of the pandemic by the time I’m done. But it will be lovely.
Until next time!
It’s always such an adventure to spin a new batt. The very nature of batt creation means each one will be unique. In my last post, I mentioned the batts I got at SAFF this year.
The first one I decided to spin was one of the ones from River’s Edge Fiber Arts. The colorway was named “Maple Leaf”, and I loved the rich, muted colors the minute I laid eyes on it. It’s a blend of 70% merino and 30% mulberry silk noils. Noils are little nubby things that give yarn a wonderful texture.
I spun a little sample first, and found that the ply ration needed to be higher than I thought. So I spun the rest with an 8-1 ratio and plied it (2-ply) with 9-1 and that was perfect. I’m delighted with the way it came out!
Merino/Silk Noil handspun yarn
As I’ve mentioned in the past, SAFF (the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) is hands-down my favorite place to buy fiber for spinning. The choices! The colors! And at that show, my favorite fiber vendor is the Trading Post for Fiber Arts. So imagine my disappointment at their absence this year. I really missed the jaw-dropping pleasure I’ve experienced in their booth in the past.
However, that meant I had more money for other folks. In particular, I indulged at River’s Edge Fiber Arts and Apothefaery Luxury Fibers. For whatever reason, I was drawn to batts more than roving.
Click the thumbnails below to see the large images.
Merino/silk noil batt – River’s Edge Fiber Arts
Merino/silk noil batts – River’s Edge Fiber Arts
Merino/Eri Silk Batts – Apothefaery Luxury Fibers
I entered just one skein of handspun yarn in this year’s SC State Fair back in October. Yes, it’s December now, so I’m a little late with this post.
It was a fractal spin of 100% bombyx silk, dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks. I did it as a two-ply, with a 1-6 split. That means I split the braid in half long-ways, then split one of those halves long-ways again into 6 long narrow strips. I spun the “whole” half all in one go, then the 6 long strips end-to-end. So I had two bobbins, one with long color changes and the other with quick color changes. Those got plied together.
This type of silk fiber looks best to me as a consistent yarn, and I’m happy to say it came out well in that regard. And I won first place with it!
I had 4 skeins of this fiber in the Nosegay colorway, and I spun them all the same way (more or less). A couple of lovely things will result when I get around to knitting them up.
Bombyx Silk, “Nosegay” Fractal Handspun
Back in 2015, when I was a new spinner, I tackled some beautiful silk hankies. They are nothing like “regular” fiber.
The basic technique is to peel off one (very) thin hanky, poke a hole in the middle, and draft it out however much you want prior to spinning. The less you draft them ahead of time, the more you must do when actually spinning. The fibers are very long and it is a challenge to draft them at all while spinning. It actually hurts your hands because silk is a very tough fiber.
Forward to the present. I want to knit a shawl using the hanky yarn I spun way back then, BUT I also want to include some undyed hanky silk (which is pearlescent white) with the purple/gold/blue that I have from before. That means hanky spinning!
Luckily, I know more now than I did then. I very quickly realized that this is a time when I want to pre-draft the fiber out COMPLETELY before spinning. That way I have more control over the drafting process, and no damage to my hands while spinning. The spinning process in this case is actually more like plying, because I am just making sure there’s enough twist as I put it through. I’m spinning it on 12:1 and feeding about an inch with each treadle.
I’m really happy with the results.
Undyed Hanky Silk