The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Sock Loot! August 5, 2011

Filed under: fiber,spinning,Yarn — Cailyn @ 11:09 am
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Now the part that you’ve all been waiting for.  Or dreading, depending on how much you like or hate when bloggers post things they’ve bought at events you didn’t go to.  You might want to skip this post if you’re the jealous type.

 

First up, the random stuff.  Preordered swag (glass, pen, button [not shown {but cool}]).  I just wanted to see how many types of brackets I could use in one sentence.  And a high speed whorl for my wheel, which means I can put more twist in per treadle when I spin laceweight.  And there’s a teal aluminum needle gauge.  It was a complete impulse buy near the register while I was buying the whorl, but I’ve always kind of wanted one.  They had three shades of blue!  It was hard to choose.  The gauge goes down to size 000 size 000000 which looks terrifyingly small!  Oh, and the pen lights up.  Because why not?

 

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I got a new mug from Jennie the Potter, although I didn’t get to the booth fast enough to get her special Sock Summit mug.  She said they sold out in the first 20 minutes the market was open!  Yipes.  Anyway, I got this knitting mug to go with the spinning mug I use every morning for coffee.  This one has yarn in turquoise with white and black sheep; the one I have already is dark blue yarn with brown and black sheep.  They look great together, even though I’m only showing you the new one. 

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Then there’s the fibers!  Let’s see, shall we go in chronological order or pretty order?  Let’s go chronological.

 

We stopped by Crown Mountain Farms, who had all kinds of fun blends and undyed fibers.  I got some incredibly soft undyed yak/merino (50/50).  This stuff is what I imagine clouds feel like.  It’s that light and fluffy.  Living in Seattle, it’s kind of the color of clouds too.  I think this will be spun up to keep it’s fluffiness and made into a warm, soft scarf for Lowell.

 

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After that, my eye was caught by a stunning 100% tussah silk by Teresa Ruch Designs, but then I fell in love with this alpaca/silk blend (80/20).  It’s black alpaca laced through with bright shining silk in teal and violet.  It looks like an opal.  I haven’t had much luck spinning alpaca before, but I couldn’t, literally couldn’t, put this fiber down.  I have no idea what I’ll spin it into yet… It’s almost too pretty as a hank of fiber to spin up!

 

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I went down to Portland with my Tiger Mt spindle but nothing to spin on it.  Even though I can spin just as well on my spindle as my wheel, I prefer to spin 2 oz or less on my spindle.  For some reason to me, spinning a 4oz hunk of fiber seems too “big” for a spindle project.  And for some reason (this is where I think I might have a problem) I don’t like splitting a 4 oz braid into two 2 oz segments.  I want to only have 2 total oz of fiber for my spindle.  And that’s hard to find, since more fiber is sold in 4 oz chunks.  But I did find one vendor selling fiber in bulk and in a great color, so I bought 2 oz  of merino/silk from her.  I think it’s 50/50, but I can’t remember and didn’t write it down.  Destined to be laceweight.

 

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Hm, silk seems to be a recurring theme here.  There’s silk in this next purchase from RainCity Fiber Arts too.  In fact, it’s merino/yak/silk (60/20/20).  Second yak purchase in two days, hmm… 2 oz and super pretty.  Also soft enough to make a cotton ball weep.

 

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One of my favorites: a gorgeous merino/silk (80/20) blend from Fiber Optic Yarns.  Again with the silk!  What’s up with that?  The roving is dyed from a light aqua to a dark, dark indigo color.  I walked by this booth a few times, my eye always drawn to the “gradient dyed” fiber.  They had a number of other colorways, including a lovely golden-orange to purple.  I tried to resist buying this.  I really did!  They probably thought I was stalking them the way I kept walking by, looking at this, then walking away slowly.  I was doing yet another walk-by when I thought of the perfect project for this fiber- a shawl that fades slowly from one color to the other, like this one from the Yarn Harlot.  I imagined myself carefully dividing the fiber in half, spinning each color section as a laceweight single,  plying so that everything lines up right (or mostly right), knitting up a beautiful shawl that fades from aqua to indigo and then it was all over.  I had to have it.  I can’t wait to spin it.

 

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After I decided to spend money on that, I made a decision on another item I’d been waffling over.  A Jenkins Woodworking “Kuchulu” Turkish spindle.  They had one that was so small and cute that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  It weighs about .3 oz (9g) and is just about as long as my index finger.  It’s designed to be a pocket-sized spindle and it is!  I can’t get over how adorable it is.  So small and cute and it spins like a dream.  I’ll write more about what makes a Turkish spindle interesting later.  The shaft is walnut and the wings are made from amboyna, which is a wood from southeast Asia.  I have a special spot in my heart for red woods.  Ed said that he doesn’t use amboyna anymore, so mine is special!  I love going to festivals and talking to the people who actually make the things I’m buying.

 

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I was going to use the teal merino/silk I’d gotten the day before to try out the Kuchulu, but I wandered by Crown Mountain Farms again and saw this lovely pencil roving that I hadn’t noticed before.  It was a great price, 2 oz, merino/tencel (50/50) and a color I love.

 

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I also picked up some Lorna’s Laces Solemate (colorway Navy Pier), their newest yarn line.  It’s made from 55% superwash wool, 15% nylon, and 30% Outlast.  Outlast is a viscose fiber which is a man-made plant (cellulose) fiber, like rayon or bamboo.  It’s supposed to “regulate microclimate” to keep you from getting too hot or too cold.  Outlast was originally designed for space suits using “phase change materials” coated with polyester.  I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this when I knit up this yarn- I’m pretty excited to try it, because my feet are always too cold or too hot!

 

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Yes, I only bought one skein of yarn.  That’s it.  I have a lot of yarn already and I was drawn to the fibers more than the yarns.  The yarn selection was stunning, though!  Lastly (well, really first) I bought three Japanese stitch dictionaries.  This might seem like an embarrassment of riches, but it’s also a bit of a curse.  Now I want to put every single pattern on a pair of socks or mittens or a hat.  There are so many great designs.  Hmm, I’d better get started knitting!

 

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Oh, and I also bought a set of Signature Needles Size 1 (2.25mm) DPNs.  But I didn’t take their picture.

 

Madrona Was Fun February 22, 2011

Filed under: Musings,spinning — Cailyn @ 11:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

As you may have guessed from my little ditty last Thursday, I spent some time at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.  I actually didn’t spend much time there, just most of Thursday.  You would think that I wouldn’t forget about a fiber festival all of one hour from my house, but I did.  I remembered it far too late to sign up for regular classes.  I thought I would just go down for the marketplace again, like I did last year, but then I noticed the mini-class list.  The mini-classes were an hour and half (as opposed to three or six hours) and they spanned all kinds of topics.  Most importantly, I was in time for registration.  I signed up for a mini-class on hand cards on Thursday afternoon. 

 

I arrived about two hours before my class.  I went straight to the marketplace, as any reasonable person would.  After all, some of those fibers would go fast!  I took a walk around, looking at everything (and I do mean everything!) before doing a second round to actually buy things.  It was a hard decision!

 

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The fiber that opened the floodgates was this one, a merino/tencel blend.  It was buried under some silk blends, but the colors of this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go.  Seriously, it tried to eat my hand.  I love the lighter streaks of tencel in the wool.

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Then I spent a long time looking at silk hankies (also known as mawata to avoid confusion) at the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, along with a 100% silk colorway that was gorgeous.  But ultimately, I decided that I preferred the colors at another booth. Mawata is made by soaking and stretching a silkworm cocoons in layers on a frame so that it looks a little like a handkerchief (hence the confusing name “silk hanky”).  You can spin from them or stretch them out and knit with them unspun or a million other things.  Recently, the Yarn Harlot wrote about knitting mittens out of unspun mawata.  I wasn’t the only one to think that this idea looked fun; silk hankies were the hot item this year!  I got 14 g (about half an ounce) of mawata for $5 at the Wolf Creek Wools booth.  Like most silk, the color is incredibly intense in person.

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I also bought some “Panda” merino/bamboo/nylon yarn in a nice spring blue, because well, why not?  I really like the yarns from Wolf Creek Wools.  I made a little shrug out of some merino/tencel of theirs that I bought at the Sock Summit in ‘09.

 

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Then, I was admiring the spindles at the Carolina Homespun booth- they had a great selection.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Cascade Spindle Company spindles; I have four of them now, even if two are technically the same model.  I really want the Little Si spindle, not so much because I want to spin on it (although I bet it spins great) but because Little Si is only a few miles from my house.  I’m always on the lookout for it.  Long story short, Carolina Homespun didn’t have one, but they did have some other wonderful things.  I ended up getting this pretty “wristaff,” which isn’t from Cascade Spindle Co but from a woodturner in Canada.

 

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After that, I thought I was done shopping.  Except that I had a $5 coupon for any vendor that you got for registering for a class.  With that coupon burning in my pocket, I was torn between some knitting needles, some undyed silk, or some fiber from Hood Canal YarnsLast year, I bought some alpaca/silk fiber from Hood Canal Yarns which I really enjoyed spinning, even if it did take me half a year to do so.  I couldn’t decide which fiber to get there,until I noticed that everything I had bought so far was a very specific blue.  So, of course I bought this lovely blue fiber.  To stick with the theme.

 

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The best part was, this fiber was just about $5 an ounce.  With the coupon, I basically got an ounce free!  3 oz of 75% Blue Faced Leicester and 25% silk.  Yummy.

 

Oh right, I also had a class!  I finished up shopping just in time to go to my class, be a little early, and chat with some of the other students.  The class I took was on using hand cards to make rolags and punis.  A puni is essentially the same thing as a rolag, but made smaller and denser and almost always with cotton.  Using hand cards looks so simple, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it.  All you do is brush one card across the other a few times, transfer the fiber to the other card, and repeat until you’re ready to roll.  Simple, see?  Why did it take me almost an hour to be able to do this thing that people have been doing for thousands of years?

 

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I really have no answer.  Except that I wasn’t the only one to have trouble, so I guess that makes me feel a little better.  I did eventually get it, which made me really happy because spinning from a true carded rolag is awesome.  And so fast.  I see much more woolen spinning in my future.  I can’t wait to try these rolags with my Russian spindle!  In the picture above is a merino rolag (blue) and a cotton/silk puni.

 

I love going to these fiber festivals.  I don’t usually go with anyone, unless Lowell tags along, because none of my friends are quite as obsessive as I am about these sorts of things.  But it doesn’t matter.  You can sit chat with anyone there, knowing that they share in your passion for fiber.  I had a woman sit with me while I was practicing my carding and we chatted about her alpacas and I showed her what I could of carding.  It’s wonderful, even for an introvert like me, to just be around all those people who don’t look at you funny when you talk about the sleeve construction of your Central Park Hoodie.

 

Next year, I’m really going to try to remember about the registration day.

 

Plying Advice January 7, 2011

Filed under: spinning — Cailyn @ 12:02 am
Tags: , ,

I used to hate plying my handspun.  Plying adds strength and durability to a yarn, so it’s worth doing in theory.  I love knitting with a good two-ply yarn better than a singles yarn.  (Malabrigo Worsted or Crystal Palace Mochi are commercial examples of singles yarn.  Knit Picks Palette is a commercial two-ply.)  So, why did I hate plying and what changed my mind?

 

Lots of spinners dislike plying.  Most dislike it because it takes longer to complete the yarn (you have to spin twice the length of singles and double them up to make a two-ply.)  I don’t mind the extra time; what I disliked was that the finished yarn never turned out the way I wanted it too.

 

Now, when you’re spinning the singles, you’re supposed to pause occasionally and perform a “ply back test.”  You let the strand twist back on itself, producing a short bit of two-ply yarn- a preview of the finished yarn.  If the little bit doesn’t look or feel the way you want the finished yarn to look or feel, then you can change how much twist you’re putting in to achieve the right properties.  I do the ply-back test often enough and generally end up with a sample that I’m happy with.  If you’re smart, you clip off a good sample section and attach it to something near your wheel or spindle to remind yourself what you’re aiming for.  (I’ll admit, I’m usually not that smart.)

 

You perform a similar test on the plied yarn as you ply  (let’s call it a “twist test,”) but this time you don’t want the yarn to twist on itself.  You want it to hang down nicely straight.  If it twists on itself, that means you have too much or too little plying twist.  You want a “balanced” yarn that doesn’t twist when you’re finished.  An over-plied yarn can distort your knitted fabric.  I did this test too and adjusted my twist to achieve a balanced yarn.

 

But then why did my yarn always look under-plied and nothing like my pretty ply-back sample?  If I plied to the sample, the yarn twisted back on itself like crazy- theoretically leading to a poor knitting yarn and a waste of time and fiber (for me, anyway; you can do interesting things with over-active yarn, but it’s not my thing.)

 

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Then I came across this post about good-looking two-ply yarns on Ask the Bellwether.

 

When you’re done spinning your singles, the standard advice is to let them sit for a few days.  This lets some of the twist energy go “dormant” and makes the singles easier to manage.  The other reason is that you never finish all of your singles at the same time (it’s more of a sequential activity,) so one single is always older than the other.  Letting them sit for a few days evens them out so that you’re not plying a fresh energetic single with an older dormant one.  You ply with stale singles, if you will.  But when you do the ply-back test, the twist is still new and energetic. See where I’m going here?

 

The ply-back test, which you used to figure out how you wanted the yarn to look, used fresh singles.  The twist test on the plied yarn uses stale singles.  So, as the Bellwether points out, if you insert just enough twist to get a balanced yarn when plying the stale singles, you’ll actually under-ply.  Every time.

 

Once I read that, I couldn’t wait to finish spinning some singles to try this out.  I plied to my sample (which had been made with the ply-back, fresh single) instead of to a balanced yarn.  The finished skein twisted something fierce, but I dropped it in it’s hot bath anyway.

 

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It bled quite a bit (took three rinses to get the water to be only tinted purple!)  Yes, there’s another skein in there with it, which luckily was brown so didn’t get any dye on it.  I need to remember to always wash skeins separately.  I just know I’ll put a red skein in with something white sooner or later and then I’ll be sorry.

 

What came out of that sink, though, was beautiful.  The dried skein didn’t twist back on itself at all and I finally had a yarn that looked and felt right.  It knits up lovely.

 

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I have since replicated these results with three other fibers:

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So, what have we learned?

 

Ignore the twisting skein.  Follow the sample.  The sample will set you free.

 

Travel Yarns June 17, 2010

Filed under: spinning,Yarn — Cailyn @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, better late than never.  I give you:

Yarns of the East (where “east” means Chapel Hill, NC and Fairfax, VA)

I first visited my sister in Chapel Hill.  While she was at work, I stole borrowed her car and visited a few yarn shops.

 

The first was Yarns Etc, a very nice (but small) yarn shop.  I bought some lovely roving from the local Three Waters Farm.  The roving is 4 oz of dyed Black Blue Faced Leicester.  It has these dramatic undyed black streaks throughout.  There were two colorways that I liked and my current plan when I can’t decide on a color is to go with the color I normally wouldn’t choose.  So the dark green/brown roving was put back in favor of this lighter, almost pastel roving.  I’m very curious how it will spin up.

 

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Speaking of spinning… I spent some time in a local coffee shop while I was with my sister (after I dropped her off at work, I had to wait for the yarn stores to open, or sometimes I would come back and have some time to spare before I had to pick her up.  I don’t normally spin in these situations, usually I knit, but I decided to spin this time.  I got a yummy drink and spun my black alpaca fiber that I got at Madrona earlier this year.  (I was going to post some of these pictures from my phone to the blog, but the app wasn’t working and I was too lazy to work around it.)

 

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Yummy drink and “spinner’s leg” covered in fiber bits.

 

I got a decent amount of spinning done in a few hours there.  I didn’t spin all of this in the coffee shop- some of this was done in the airport during my layover on the way back to Seattle.  I think all the parents in that waiting area should thank me; I think I had every kid, from age two to twelve, sitting on the floor in front of me, just watching my spindle spin.  That was pretty fun.

 

I’m trying to spin this singles a little thicker than I normally would.  I’ve divided the roving in half so the final yarn will be a 2-ply.  I didn’t sample- I’m a rebel.  (Sample in spinning is like gauge in knitting.)

 

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I also visited Shuttles Needles & Hooks in Cary, NC (no website).  This was a fun shop, even though I didn’t end up buying anything there.  The shop is in an old house, and by “in” I mean that it takes up the entire house.  Every nook and cranny is filled with yarn or roving or notions.  The second floor has some yarns and a big space filled with looms.  And things that I assume are accessories to looming.  This shop was a bit like a treasure hunt, which was very fun since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.  The book selection was great and I probably would have gotten a book or two if I weren’t trying to keep my luggage-weight down.

 

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Look, you can see a stove under the basket there!  Luckily, they only use the bathroom for shop storage so you don’t have to go look for Noro in the john.

 

One reason that I didn’t buy anything at Shuttles Hooks & Needles is that I love to buy local yarn when I’m on a trip.  You can get Berroco or Cascade or even Dream in Color in shops all over the country now.  Don’t get me wrong, I like those yarns.  But if I’m going to buy yarn somewhere else besides my own LYS, I want it to be special.  I don’t want it to be the same yarns that I see over and over in every shop in the country.  I know that this may seem silly, especially since I can buy any of these “local” yarns online via Etsy or other merchants, but it means a lot to me.  I love it when a yarn store carries yarns that are locally made or dyed.

 

That’s one of the reasons that I loved Fibre Space in Alexandria so much.  This store was a lot of fun.  I’ll definitely be going back there next time I’m in Virginia.  It’s not huge but it has a great attitude.  I mean, look at their logo!  It has a space ship.  That just hits me in all my weak spots.  And in case that wasn’t enough to win me over (which it was, btw), they carry local yarns and make a point of labeling them so that they’re easy to find!  The staff was friendly, helpful, and chatty, but not pushy about it.  The back room had spindles and rovings and they had awesome shirts for sale with their logo.

 

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I knew that Blue Ridge Yarns was local, since I had bought some of their yarn in VA before in the shop where I took a wheel lesson.  This time they had a merino/bamboo blend sock yarn and you know that I can’t say no to that.  The other yarn is a fun cotton “homespun” in a really pretty blue.  I have to think of something neat to knit with it.

 

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I didn’t know that Dragonfly Fibers was based in Virginia.  Once I saw the “local sign,” I jumped on this dramatic Dragonsock colorway.

 

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And this is a new company that I hadn’t heard about before.  The label was so slick that I thought they were a big, national company until the clerk told me that the Neighborhood Fiber Company was a small dyer who had started in VA before moving to OH.  I liked her yarn so much that I almost bought a wool/silk laceweight- and I don’t even knit lace!  I am in completely in love with this merino/cashmere blend sock yarn.

 

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I’m hoping to use some of my “Virginia yarn” in a project soon.  If you’re ever in northern VA, stop by Fiber Space!  They rock. 

 

Photos of me courtesy of my mom, who also taught me to knit all those years ago and never minds coming with me to yarn stores.  Thanks for the yarn!

 

Searching… April 22, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 11:51 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have finished the Internet.  I have wandered far and wide in search of something and have not found it, so I must have finished the Internet.  (The zebra did it.)  And despite Rule 34, I never ran across some merino getting it on with a bit of cotton.

 

Remember that cardigan that I was kind of thinking about making?  The one that the last two posts have been about?  Well, I have come to my senses.  Somewhat.

 

I have accepted the reality that I will not be able to make the February Lady by the time I leave for VA.  (First, I spent a great deal of time trying to convince the laws of time and space that they really didn’t need to apply to me.  After all, they have so many other things to do, why worry about one little knitter?  Shockingly, they didn’t go for it.)  But the bright side to that realization is that I am no longer confined by the summer heat of VA in my yarn choice.  Given that it may take me months to finally find the time to start this project, I can choose whatever yarn I want.  Well, so long as it’s not too expensive.  I decided pretty fast that I wanted a wool/Tencel or wool/bamboo yarn, dyed semi-solid.  I am addicted to the shine that the rayon/wood fibers bring to the party.  I think this cardigan will look great with that shine.  Also I like semi-solids way better than solids.  I’m just crazy that way.

 

So what was I looking for that I couldn’t find on the whole World Wide Web?

 

Semi-solid or handpainted merino/Tencel or bamboo worsted weight yarn that won’t break the bank in sweater-quantity.  Doesn’t exist.  Plenty of gorgeous fingering weight yarns in those blends.  A few solid-colored DKs.  And an even smaller number of solid worsteds.  A few 100% bamboo yarns that looked interesting.  But no worsted blends that fit my criteria.

 

What I wanted was something like this, in worsted weight:

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(MightySock in Iris from Abstract Fibers)

or this:

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(Merino Tencel from Wolf Creek Wools)

 

I used the Wolf Creek one to knit a last-minute shrug for a bridesmaid dress last summer.  I love the yarn and I feel so stupid that I didn’t buy more of it at the time so that I could have made the sleeves longer on the shrug and thus use the shrug more often.

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I must have spent days looking for this perfect yarn.  Every ad on Ravelry, Knitty, and Interweave Knits was followed, every FLS project on Ravelry was looked at.  I just couldn’t find it.

 

Then I realized that this was exactly the kind of problem that I had learned to spin to solve.  There may be no merino/Tencel yarns out there, but there are plenty of pounds of that blend, hand-dyed and all, for the spinning.  And then, of course, I realized that I have yet to produce a yarn that is a) thicker than fingering weight, b) plied well and c) actually knittable.  It would likely take me a year (if not longer) to spin the 1,200 yards needed for this project.  I mean, 4 oz of fiber seems like a never-ending project.  So that was out.  (To be honest, I really tried to convince myself that I could do it and it would be easy.  Apparently, there is some part of me that is still coldly logical.  Who knew?)

 

So I went back to the metaphorical drawing board and thought.  And thought.  And thought…  WEBS’ in-house yarn brand, Valley Yarns, makes a worsted merino/Tencel blend called Colrain.  It only comes in solid colors and there’s only 109 yards in a ball.  That’s 12 balls to make the sweater- 24 ends to weave in.  But they sell the “natural” yarn in big hanks of 545 yards.  Fewer ends to weave in and I can dye it myself, thus getting the perfect amount of semi-solid.  I’ve dyed small batches of wool often enough, it shouldn’t be too hard to do a huge batch.

 

Now, wool and other protein fibers (and for some reason nylon) are dyed with acid dyes.  Plant fibers are dyed with reactive dyes.  Tencel, bamboo, Modal, etc, are plant fibers, even if they are manufactured.  This presented a problem.  Can you dye the same yarn in an acid and then a reactive dye?  Will that hurt the plant fiber?

 

After another exhaustive search of the Intarwebs, I found out that Tencel actually can be dyed with acid dyes.  It won’t take the dye quite as well as wool and will be a muted shade, but it will dye.  I’m not that big on bright jewel tones anyway so muted shades sounds great to me.  But I didn’t know for sure how well it would dye and that’s a lot of money to spend on a sweater’s worth of yarn if I’m not sure that it will work.  What if I couldn’t get the shade I wanted?  What if the Tencel didn’t take the dye at all and the yarn ended up streaky?  What if I hate the yarn itself?  Does it pill?  Wear well?  Does it end up looking dingy after a wash?  Does it stretch and how is the stitch definition?  I was obsessing over the fact that I just didn’t know anything about this yarn and was I willing to buy three 250 g hanks of yarn sight-unseen and then find out if the yarn split or pilled or took dye like crap?

 

That’s when I realized that I was being an idiot, ordered one 109 yard ball of Colrain for $3.99 and a color card (just in case), and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

 

The GYS2010 Continues April 19, 2010

Filed under: Knitting Projects — Cailyn @ 1:18 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Damn you, Windows Update.  Or maybe Live Writer.  Whichever of you decided not to save my half-written post the other day when the computer restarted, you’re on notice!

 

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That half-written post was pretty funny; it’s too bad that it was lost.

 

C’est la vie; we shall move on.  So where did I leave off… Oh yes, the Great Summer Yarn Search of 2010 (for a Cardigan that I’m Not Even Going to Make Because I Haven’t Finished Lowell’s Sweater and even if I Did I Wouldn’t Be Able to Finish It Before I Leave on the 18th of May Because of All the Other Things I Have to Do).

I started this search by looking at the projects for the February Lady Sweater on Ravelry and seeing what yarn other people have used.  This then led to checking out the yarn’s ratings on Ravelry and other projects made with this yarn.  The problem was, most of the star ratings and comments didn’t say anything about how the yarn wears; they mostly mentioned how the yarn was to work with.  And while that is very important (no one wants to work with a yarn that is so stiff that it hurts the hands), I really wanted to know if the finished object pilled or stretched or looked ratty after a while and how it feels to wear: heavy, warm, prone to snag?  So I started searching the forums, then the web in general, for this info.

After a while, I realized that I don’t have a lot of experience with plant fibers when not blended in small amounts with wool.  This surprised me, because I have cotton and linen and acrylic yarns in my stash.  Every year when the weather starts to get warm and sunny, I buy some plant fibers to “try them out” for summer knitting.  But apparently I never made that final step to actually knitting them and seeing how they behave.

So, I have excavated my plant fibers from my stash and added a few popular yarns from the LYS.  I will swatch them, wash them, hang them, and wash them again to stress test these yarns.  Pilling will be exposed!  Splitting will be revealed!  Sag will be analyzed!  And out of the goodness of my heart, I will write about these swatches for you to read!

Stay tuned to hear about swatches knit from:

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Cascade Cotton Rich DK (64% cotton/36% nylon)

 

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Berroco Pure Pima (100% Pima cotton)

 

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Spud & Chloe Sweater (55% superwash wool/45% cotton)

 

As well as:

 

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Top: Knit Picks Shine Sport (60% Pima cotton/40% Modal)

Bottom: Knit Picks CotLin DK (70% Tanquis cotton/30% linen)

 

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And a mystery yarn! (It’s only a mystery because I didn’t take a picture of it and now I can’t remember what it is.)

 

Party time February 2, 2010

Filed under: Musings — Cailyn @ 10:06 pm
Tags: ,

Hello, blog.  I’ve missed you.

 

Things have been busy.  Lowell’s birthday was last Friday and I spent a long time planning a surprise party for him.  It was hard, too, since I had to hide things in very creative places to keep him from finding the decorations or food!  The planning took a lot of my time last week.  I was sure that someone was going to spill the beans, but the party ended up as a complete surprise.

 

About halfway through the party, I sat down and pulled out my spindle.  (I had tweaked something in my wrist while cleaning and knitting aggravated it, but spinning seemed okay.)  It’s funny to see people’s reactions when you pull out a spindle.  Friends who are completely used to you knitting in public suddenly look at you like you’ve got five arms and two of them are spinning.  But then they start to pay attention to your hands.  You can see the transition; when they see the fluffy fiber becoming thin string, they can’t stop watching.  They may make disparaging comments about it being a waste of time and too tedious, but they also can’t take their eyes off the twirling spindle.  It’s fun.

 

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This yarn is going to be a not-quite-birthday scarf for Lowell.  He wanted something natural and soft.  It’s Ecolana from Aslan Trends.  60% alpaca, 40% merino, all natural and undyed.  It’s a very rustic looking yarn.  It feels great in the skein but like so many yarns, it doesn’t knit up that way.  I wouldn’t say it’s scratchy, per se, but it’s surprisingly harsh for alpaca and merino.  There are also a large number of coarse guard hairs (hairs from the outer coat of the alpaca) that I’m having to pick out as I knit.  It’s unfortunate, because I really like the look of this yarn.  Lowell likes the knit fabric enough that I don’t need to rip out the 6 inches I’ve got knit, but I don’t think I’ll be using this yarn again.

 

The Ecolana was on sale at Webs when I bought it.  I couldn’t help throwing a few more on-sale items into the cart:

 

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Another color of Ecolana (which now I kind of regret), and four skeins of Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted Tones.  What can I say, the Tones were pretty and 220 yards for $4.50.  You’d have to be some kind of yarn-hating freak of nature to say no to that kind of offer.