The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Shawl Swatch Watch June 9, 2011

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 4:51 pm
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I just avoided spilling a full cup of coffee as I tripped over a power cable.  Miracle!

 

Also a miracle, I have finished (sort of) the swatch for my handspun shawl.  It was delayed by two full froggings, three partial froggings, a sudden spurt of spring cleaning, and a kayaking trip.

 

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The swatch is about half the number of stitches of the finished design but has all the right elements in it.  The bottom pattern is from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia; the middle and upper pattern are from The Haapsalu Shawl.  The upper pattern (one of the numerous “paw” patterns) will be most of the shawl with garter borders.  I won’t be putting a traditional border around the whole shawl- I like the slightly modern look of a straight-edged shawl.  And I think knitting a border for a 60×20 inch shawl would kill me.  Literally.  I would keel over from sheer boredom just trying to pick up all the stitches for it!

 

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Here’s the problem:  I’m not sure I’m happy with the look of the thing.

 

I’m pretty happy with the general layout and patterns I chose (which wasn’t easy!)  I’m not entirely certain about the paw pattern, but I’m not going to revise the whole thing again.  The drape is lovely and the yarn is great.  But I’m not sure if it’s lacy enough.  Is it too… solid?  Not enough space between the strands of yarn?

 

As it stands, the swatch gives me about 6 stitches to the inch.  That should make the whole shawl about 14 inches wide.  I’m debating casting on with a set of size 5 or 6 needles for the actual shawl.  That should both make the shawl lacier and wider.  I’m not planning on re-swatching, though (yes, I live dangerously).  I’ve had enough of swatches!  I’m just not sure… part of the problem is that I don’t have a set of 5s or 6s.  If I like the way it looks now, I can start the shawl immediately.  But if I want to use bigger needles, I have to sneak out to the store, which isn’t really close by.

 

I can’t decide.

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Laceweight May 30, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 5:55 pm
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All week I said to myself, “I’ll write a post as soon as I have this yarn finished.  It shouldn’t take much longer.”  Well, it did take longer.

 

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I started spinning the laceweight yarn that I sampled a last month.  I used some merino-bamboo fiber that I bought from Weaving Works forever ago; it doesn’t have a brand name or anything.  It’s a 50-50 blend which is shiny and silky and spins up just as nice as it looks.

 

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I sampled using just the color above (a color that I started to call in my head “Steel Teal”), but I wanted a little more depth and interest in my final yarn.  I also had some darker, bluer fiber of the same provenance, so I decided to use that as an “accent color” sort of thing.  I don’t have a good picture of it, but keeping with my theme I called this color “Steel Periwinkle.”  Which sounds a bit like a private eye in a bad detective flick.

 

I didn’t have any way to blend the fibers before spinning.  I couldn’t use my handcards for two reasons.  First, the fibers were too long.  The carding surface on mine is about 3 inches tall, which means I’ll just get a snarled mess if I try to card any fiber longer than that on them.  And second, I was going to spin this worsted, which is a combed preparation, so carding it to spin short draw seemed counter productive.  What I ended up doing was inspired by this free PDF article from Spin-Off.  I split my teal roving (by this I mean I tore off a hunk, then split that lengthwise into four portions) then tore off a similar sized hunk of periwinkle and split that into eight to twelve portions.  That way, the teal was the main color, but I’d get varying amounts of periwinkle in there- just a little for interest.

 

Of course, I realized after a few hours of spinning that I hadn’t weighed my fiber to see how much I had or divided it in half for even plies.  Being lazy, I decided that I would just spin until the bobbins looked about full the same amount.  By some miracle, this worked!  I ended up with about 3 yards of extra on the second bobbin, not even enough bother with!  I was rather shocked, actually.

 

I ended up with about 2.3 oz (66g) of two-ply mostly laceweight yarn.  Now, this yarn has enjoyed jerking me around a bit.  When I was spinning the singles, I always felt deep in my heart that the half-bobbin was never going to be enough for a shawl.  But as I was plying, I was sure that I had overshot my needs- it went on forever.  Then when it was washing, I just knew that I didn’t have enough- that it couldn’t be enough for a shawl.  But when I re-skeined it (which again took forever) I thought that I had plenty.  When I weighed it and it came in at a measly 2 ounces and change, I was pretty upset.  Until I looked at a few millspun yarns and realized that they’re often sold in 50g hanks and I had 66g, so I was pretty well off.

 

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I say “mostly” laceweight because I drifted around the target thickness some, and to be honest the majority of the yarn is just slightly heavier than a true laceweight.  Somewhere between a “light fingering” and “lace” really.  But, then again, I really dislike working with the super-thin true laceweight so maybe it’s for the best for my first try.  All in all, I’m pleased as punch about this yarn.

 

To prepare myself for spinning really thin yarn, I watched “Spinning for Lace” which I got as a download from the Interweave Knits store.  It was a big help.  Margaret Stove is great.  The main thrust of the video is spinning with superfine merino, but a lot of the information carries over to other fibers.  I particularly like her method of holding the singles during plying.  It’s been the most comfortable for me so far and offers great control.

 

Now I just have to design a shawl and knit 60-65 inches of it.  Piece of cake.

 

Some Random Things April 19, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 11:03 pm
Tags: ,

1) I’m busy working on the sock for Tangled.  It’s encrusted with twisted-stitch cables, so it’s slow going compared to my last sock design, so I was starting to get worried about the deadline.  Then I remembered that I thought about that when I designed the sock- that’s why the sock has a mostly stockinette foot, to balance out the slow cuff and leg.  Less worried now.

 

2) I ordered an inkle loom from Palmer Looms.  I can’t wait for it to get here.

 

3) When I need to let my hands rest from knitting, I have been spinning up some fiber for a sample to see what spinning laceweight is like.  Yesterday I made this cute little skein.  It was… really fun.  Hard to describe fun.  But I really enjoyed it and I have a feeling I’d better learn to like lace knitting more or find a friend who does, because lots more laceweight spinning is in my future!

 

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4) Looking back on that last thing, I can’t help thinking how fun it is to spin big fast yarns with a long draw.  Maybe I don’t need to get into lace knitting too much.

 

5) Either way, I’ve been designing a shawl on the side.  I’ve always wanted one and I’m not sure why.  Sure, they’re pretty, but would I ever use one?  Probably not.  But the urge has become to strong to resist.  I wasn’t thinking about knitting or spinning lace until I went to the library last week.  I found a giant book about Haapsalu lace shawls and in it’s stitch dictionary, I found the lace pattern that I have always wanted.

 

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6) It’s going to be a rectangular shawl with scalloped edging on the short sides.  Sort of like some of the shawls in Knitting Lace of Estonia.  I think the project will be relegated to the UFO (unfinished objects) bin if I try to pick up stitches all around it and knit a border.  I don’t think knitting a separate one and sewing it on has better odds either.

 

7) I’ve got to get back to knitting that sock now.