Tag Archives: handspun

Flaming balls of molten lava, ketchup, mustard, blood, candy corn, nasturtiums, atomic fire filled traffic cone roadkill smeared on asphalt in Mordor at sunset superhero sontag

I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with my latest (or any) handknit until it has proven itself wearable with a normal wrapping and unwrapping, pulling tighter or looser, not dipping itself into toilet waters, not catching in turnstiles, and fitting in or out of a coat test drive, but the current heatwave is preventing anything beyond kicking the tires.

I’m still ambivalent and slightly indifferent about it for several reasons, but it was a wild success in others, but first, a recap –

I bought the roving last September – I was (am I still?) on a kick to buy colors outside of my comfort zone – and by that I mostly mean colors that I don’t typically wear because they make me look like shit, but I don’t care how I look to a degree, so I can like and wear whatever color I want to dammit, but I do happen to prefer earthier tones in general…

The nasturtium decided to wait for cooler days… #organicgardening #flowers #nasturtium #autumn

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

And it also reminded me of nasturtiums which I love (and I ran out of room to plant this year…).

I got two braids (8oz total) from Fuzzy Frog Fibers because they are very affordable, she does fun and interesting colors, and I like the Dorset wool – springy and strong soft and 4oz doesn’t cut it for me for anything other than a hat, and yes, I can combine them with other things but I’ve already got several combo spins waiting in the wings (including another braid of the same only in my comfort colors from the year before).

I started spinning it a month or so later – I waffled a minute about how to, but I’ve been struggling with making a not-too-overspun single and figured I needed more practice. The Dorset is very forgiving on that front too – didn’t break in the skinny sections and not too sticky to pull out a bit more at the last minute on a big clump.

I also waffled a minute on leaving it as is and spinning each braid separately to have double the stripes/color changes, or combining both for one big gradient – not necessary a skill to practice, but something I hadn’t done before – so I went with that. And the spinning was done by the end of the year.

I sat on it for a bit, thinking about what to make of it – it was going to be a neck thing or a body thing or a poncho-y thing… I felt it needed to be an empowering sort of thing to power through the terrible election and dark days, and almost made this sweater with the molten yarn on the back flappy cape thing, but my gauge was off, the thick and thin yarn isn’t hard enough wearing for clothes, and I haven’t finished something that needs to fit in years, and I wanted to finish it by year’s end.

So easy garter was the answer – and a top-down triangle shawl – a shape which I’m also ambivalent about but thought it was because I hadn’t made one big enough yet. And I cast-on for basically this shawl (I used size 7 needles and about 1.000 yards instead) just before a week’s vacation when rain was predicted – and my gauge was okay and the stitches felt good.

I fell for the few yards of pinky muddled grey and made note to try to recreate this with another spin and/or I’m pretty sure I unraveled a sweater with similar colors.

It's getting warmer… or bleeding? #handspun #knitting #shawl #red #fuzzyfrogfibers #sontag

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I knit more in that week than I likely had since the start of the year, or maybe before – no gardening, home improvement, office work, or major cleaning meant my wrist wasn’t in pain and could go for an hour or more knitting sessions.

And then I finished up at home – at a slower pace – and it was a good beach knitting project too – the wool wasn’t too sticky for sweaty seawater sunblock hands.

After washing and light blocking it still smells a bit of the beach (except the rotting sea-things) and didn’t change – I rarely wash garter things right off the needles, but this is headed for plastic summer storage so I wanted it to be as clean as possible.

So in the end I was able to tick a few boxes off: I acquired, spun, knit, and completed something within a year – something I want to become habit – less so on the acquisition end, but I’m almost always able to go to the state fiber fest and want to support the local and local-ish folks, even if it’s only $30 worth of fiber spread out over 3 booths; I finally made a decent (still needs work, but I didn’t have to run it through an unspin cycle at least) single; I figured out my current knitting speed is very roughly only around 700 yards a month; and I made a top-down triangle about twice as large as my last one.

And the jury is still out on the triangle until I can wear it a bit – I’m leaning towards it’s just not my thing (side to side triangles totally are) – but I’m always futzing with the less stretchy edge – tuck in under? fold it out? let it gape? and want more tail and less triangle – maybe this needed to be even bigger, or maybe I should have increased the tails more and the triangle less – I also could have eeked out 2 more rows of yarn, but didn’t want the stress, but there’s probably enough for a picot or other edging, but I don’t really like edging, unless it’s i-cord…?

I can wear it crossed in the front and tied in the back but I feel like I’m smuggling my own boobs, so I’ll most likely do the kerchief thing, or a half drape thing pinned somehow, or the traditional shawl across the shoulders thing…

Or the roll it up and pretend it’s a scarf thing.

We’ll see a few chillier months from now, and maybe N might be game to wear it instead?

But I am definitely in love with the mostly black top portion, and would like to spin and knit a mostly black thing soon, and locate the dirty pinky-grey yarn I think I have… But I have to finish or frog other things first.

 

3 Comments

Filed under knitting, spinning

Handspun helmet

To kick off my last hatmaking binge, I started with a ball of one of my earlier handspuns…

yella&greenyarn

(I thought it was older than this, but I called it a year old in 2013, so it isn’t that old…)

But anyway, a few (or one or two) years before 2012, I bought a pound of variegated dyed roving online that I thought would be mostly mustard, and it ended up being mostly lime green. So I bought another pound of mustard only and did a spin with it as one ply green and one yellow, and two of green, to see which I liked better or both, and tried to achieve a not too dramatic thick and thin yarn that was mostly bulky overall. (I think the final project was going to be one of those open cardigans with the spiral backs.) Then, like many things, I ignored it let it marinate in creative fairy juice until I got around to swatching, then spinning more.

But the colors, though I loved them off of my body, still weren’t convincing me that they should be on it.

Fast forward to a few months ago – those aforementioned hats were a birthday gift for one of my brothers who has indirectly kept me in yarn making equipment over the years from some nice gift certificates to a big spinning place, so something in handspun seemed appropriate for him and he’s cool with bright colors.

So I grabbed the cheery ball, thinking a hat could also finally be a swatch and I probably had enough, but the stuff was stiff and unyielding, and not having his head nearby to assess the perfect fit, I went with the stretchy patterns in soft superwash instead and put this one aside.

handspun cloche

And later finished it up for me – albeit very slowly – the stiff yarn is hell on the fingers.

handspun cloche profile

(These pics are before blocking, so things look a bit bumpier than they should be.)

It is a close-fitting woolen helmet, or cloche-like thing and I like it, though I’m still not convinced the colors are best for me – I can wear most greens and some yellows, but some greens are tricksters and look fine in some light and tragic in others – I don’t really care though.

A nice long bath softened everything up, but it is still dense, but perhaps not dense enough on the ears, so I might line them, but need to get some more winter wear in first to test them out. The late winter flirtations told me it had promise, but I didn’t leave the house in high wind which is often the achilles heel of bulky knit hats…

But this was another reminder that I have to pay more attention to my spinning, and loosen the hell up more. My favorite handspun yarns have been singles (though I still often have to run them through to take out a bit of spin afterward), some made from rolags, and from the fluffiest merino rovings. Otherwise, I’m getting a stiffy – not pre-drafting or fluffing up enough beforehand (I do have a lot of dense roving though), and giving it too much spin – at least I think those are my biggest problems…

So it’s back to the books and the basics a bit for me, and I think I’m going to let go of the thoughts for a bigger project with the variegated green stuff and play with it a bit instead…

2 Comments

Filed under dyeing, knitting, spinning

$15 mistake; Middle-aged dreadlocks

I’ve gone to the last couple of fiber festivals with only $30 to spend on wool. This has actually been a blast rather than depressing because I take a penny candy approach to fiber and only buy an ounce or two of something here and there, and come home with a riot of color and new breeds to try out. If I’ve got a little extra cash after seeing all of the booths, I’ll go back for something in 4 ounces or so that caught my eye and spend my last $10-$15.

What caught my eye at the last NJ sheep festival was some Gotland – I had “gotten” some the previous year in a pale grey and loved spinning it. This was a darker chocolately grey – not too light, not too dark. I fondled some roving that was loose in a basket and asked if the breeder had more for sale.

gotland wad

I got it wound flat and sealed in a bag – it looked a bit odd to me, but I’m still a bit of a sheepy noob and figured it was just processed a bit differently…

But when I got home, it was what I feared – a felted mass.

It could have nearly been a sheepy collar as-is.

gotland collar

I’m not going to call out the breeder (who I spotted at Rhinebeck as well) because it was my fault for not inspecting  it before I bought it, and frankly, not exactly knowing what I was buying to begin with – perhaps this wasn’t really roving but woolen rope? Instant dreadlocks? A chair pad? When I asked for roving, the breeder thought I said, do you have a spiral of felted mess for sale?

So I ripped it apart and tugged it a bit to see if it could be salvageable into yarn.

(I didn’t want to leave it as felt – the point was to spin some more Gotland, and I wanted to get what I thought I got.)

gotland pile

The resulting “roving” was a limp yet stiff, lifeless mess.

So I tugged, and tugged, and tugged some more and managed to free a lock:

gotland staple

But I nearly freed some tendons and joints from their connective bits in the process, so it was not going to be worth it to try to completely free the fiber back into a softly spinnable state.

So I ran the whole shebang through the wheel to add a slight bit of twist to help round things out.

It was the fastest spinning I’ve ever done.

glotland yarn

After a nice long soak, it looked even more like dreadlocks.

gotland dreads

I had to try them on – playing with them took up more time than spinning them…

gotland ball

But now I’ve got a tad over 20 yards of mega bulky Gotland…

gotland spiral

And I might end up needle felting it into a chair pad after all…

3 Comments

Filed under home decor, knitting, spinning

March madness…

The last of the recent short series of hats is now off the needles and on a head.

turn a square on n

You can see the “seam” created by the jogless stripe technique outlined in the Turn a Square pattern – it’s barely noticeable when making more than three rows per color, but at two, it looks like one fat stitch, which is basically what it is…

Still, I think I mind it less than a jog, though I want N to wear it in the back of the hat or it will drive me bats…

turn a square in basket

His basket of handknits is also looking a bit drab – perhaps a more colorful scarf is needed…

And I’ll beat that dead horse about crazy weather – I’m sweating in the first week of March with temps in the low 80s and the yard is breaking out in blossoms nearly a month too soon…

But the weather feels like July when I first started spinning this superwash merino from Pigeonroof Studios for the 2015 Tour de Fleece…

PRS tree scum 3-ply

And it turned into a massive wipe-out, or rather detour, and I was in the wrong country, or another continent when I reached the finish line.

I’ve been wanting to spin for a specific purpose – start with a puff of wool and say I want it to become socks, and then I spin, and knit, and have a pair of socks.

I’ve sort of done that in the sense that I’ve managed to spin enough yarn at approximately the same weight to make something of it in the end, but I’ve failed on the last few sock attempts –  the last one was a bit too thick and not enough yards and this one is waaaaaay too thin and overspun.

I started spinning it slowly and somewhat gingerly, nursing some self-diagnosed tendonitis, and playing with my hand placement so I could switch it up if need be (that part I got down fairly well). Then the last few months of summer were too hot and humid to spin and I didn’t start back up again until a month or two ago, again only spinning for about 30 minutes per session to keep my meat and bones and sinew happy. And I spun, and I spun, and I spun faster, and faster, and harder and harder… And finally four ounces became nearly 600 yards of 3 ply near laceweight… It’s so smooth and tight it feels like silk, but it isn’t even remotely what I wanted for socks.

The last bit left on one of the bobbins – the last one spun most likely since it was nearly 100 more yards than the others, became a 2 ply from a center-pull ball. Since one of the plys is unspun a bit from the ball as it plys, the resulting yarn has a softer, fluffier hand and is thicker than the 3 ply.

PRS tree scum 2ply

Lesson learned.

In theory.

Since I’ve already “learned” this lesson too many times…

Since I don’t want to knit socks on tiny needles, this won’t be socks unless held doubled on the leg parts with commercial yarn feet. Instead it might be yet another neck thing – perhaps joined with that mossy green mohair

Next spinning project is going back to the basics and bulky, maybe super bulky…

Leave a comment

Filed under knitting, spinning

Vested, or not my b[v]est

Once again I got to contemplating my frumpy vest.*

vest-front

I thought I fixed it enough to be happy enough wearing it at the time of that last post. I had added more length, replaced the buttons, and I thought I re-knit the shoulder edging with fewer stitches or smaller needles, but I’m guessing I just gave it a good block. But after unpacking it from summer storage (from a few summers ago, actually) it had reverted back to its stupidly pointy shoulders.

vest-side

This is not acceptable.

It would be almost okay if the vest was wide and boxy and I wore it open to just hang there and flop around, but I figured something so rustic should be more fitted to take down the frump factor a bit.

Only now it seemed a bit too fitted  in other parts too – the buttons at the bust gaped a bit.

vest-bust

So once I again, I set out to modify it.

vest-yarn

I had so little yarn left after making it the first time around, I was hesitant to just frog the whole thing and start over again. I’m still not crazy about vests, but this was the perfect amount of handspun yarn for one. The yarn matches my bike too, but there is too much of it that even if I pimped out the seat and handle bars and other things I’d still have an even more awkward amount left over. And I don’t want pillows or bags out of it, and it’s too rough for next to skin wear, so hats and scarves are out…

So I tried yet again to make it work.

I ripped out the garter armhole edging, opened up the side seams and added a little triangle at the pit for more bust ease, and reknit the armhole with an applied icord.

vest-moss

That worked out to be the perfect solution – much better fit with no pointy stuff on the shoulders.

vest-armholes

And I discovered I can wear it over my orange hoodie if I’m invited to march in the garish parade.

But if I wear it open as more of an outerwear thing, it should have a pocket. I won’t go into the rationalization except I think of fitted things having a degree of implied misery, and open things comfort and convenience and of course, that means having a “snot pocket” – someplace big enough to store a hankie for my ever dripping nose once it falls below 70 degrees.

vest-deck

I think I have just enough yarn leftover for that…

*The color is most accurate in the old post – the thing is a bit more subdued and overall burgundy-ish in real life.

Leave a comment

Filed under knitting, spinning

I went on vacation and all I got was this [not lousy] hat…

newhampshire -bag

We finally had our summer vacation – a week in a shack on a pond in the White Mountains.

My knee is still mostly out of commission, so I planned accordingly and packed several knitting and sewing projects along with bathing suits and sun wear to occupy my time while N was on the peaks.

What I hadn’t really planned was it ended up being cold as [insert favorite anaolgy here].

The forecast called for cool nighttime temps, so at the last minute, I luckily (and brilliantly I might say) packed our down duvet and one of our down bags along with that trickster ball of handspun* I just finished in case I wanted to whip something up out of it.

newhampshire-hatball

I quickly determined to make a hat since I neglected to pack one, and needed to wear one immediately.

(I wound the skein into a ball on the way up which didn’t induce as much car-sickness as I thought it would).

newhampshire-hathalf

I also had a few basic patterns with me just in case, and I loosely based it on the Purl Beret, but with a much smaller/tighter brim.

I finished it on the second day after hours of otter watching.

newhampshire-otters

There were also many murderous birds – a greedy heron, harriers that picked off the sweet warblers in the marsh grasses, kingfishers bombing around the dock, and less successful eagles and ospreys.

newhampshire-hattop

We even saw a moose – I’ve been patiently waiting to spy one of those for some time now.

newhampshire-hatunderside

I’m a little embarrassed to show the hat in its very wonky unblocked state, but the cool misty weather made the colors pop.

And the yarn was cooperative this time, though it had the last laugh by leaving me with an orange nipple on the top.

The hat could have been a little larger, but I was afraid of running out of yarn and I figured it would stretch since it’s superwash.

newhampshire-orangenipple

And after a month of physical therapy, I can at least ride a bike again (though not really uphill).  So we enjoyed a few pretty awesome  and underutilized bike/recreational paths, as well as tooled around the pond in a canoe.

newhampshire-bikebar

I worked on another long-suffering knitting project that is nearly on its home stretch, though I wasted a few days when I messed it up and had to undo and redo, so I will say no more about it until it’s done.

newhampshire-biketrail

And I never got to the sewing project or casting on for a new pair of socks that I though were must-dos for the week…

We really needed another week…

*There’s still enough left for a few token stripes on a pair of socks, and that little 2ply skein remains untouched.

2 Comments

Filed under hiking, knitting, spinning, travel

Mid-August progress…

We spent last weekend in the Adirondacks.

It was the last of the summer hiking trips for us.

ADK-pond hike

Our cottage was decorated in “Wal-Mart for cabin.”

ADK-bear

I actually miss the tacky painted saw blades, crude whittlings, and sh*t made out of driftwood and antlers of mountain/country crafts of yesteryear (or just a few years ago really).

Now it is plastic sh*t from China (often copied from domestic crafters).

ADK-racoon

But I managed to finally finish basting all of those damn letters.

Letters-done

The pile looks smaller than it really is.

I will never be so wordy on a quilt again.

Our CSA has been offering loads of lovely flowers.

It is a nice thing to have fresh flowers, but not in place of food – they really need to step it up in the veg department.  And as vinyl village apartment dwellers, we can’t compost, so I don’t like to have too many fresh flowers.

Quilt-shirt fabric

The letters are ready to mingle with the as yet unmade quilt blocks.

In Review

I’m also getting wordy with a fair isle scarf.

I don’t love stranded knitting.

I don’t hate it though.

PRS-lettuce on machine

My Tour de Fleece spinning goals fell short.

PRS-lettuce skein

But I finished plying my Pigeonroof Studios “lettuce” and have one braid left to finish spinning for a particular project.

I spun this one a little too thin and it came out lighter and softer in color, so it might have to become a different project.

Or the original project will be scrapped altogether.

That will have to wait.

I also started a major embroidery piece.

It will take some time.

It is pink.

I don’t love pink.

Leave a comment

Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, quilts, recycling, sewing, spinning, travel