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emmy [AT] curious-notions {dot} net
March 2007
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So there are no pictures for the second post this week. Between grad school, research work, learning for research work, and the major wedding plan changes (it’s now in a different location and a different day and all I can say is thank God everyone is finally on board with this and that I hadn’t made any hard and fast plans. But hey, now it’s cheaper and more personal and the moms and grandmoms are happier) I have been a might tight on time. I’ve barely gotten to knit or spin. Actually, there was no spinning. There was knitting while on the phone (I’m boycotting the phone until the clenching in my stomach at the sound of the phone ringing stops). I worked on Bear’s computer gloves (fingerless mittens, but apparently fingerless mittens invokes a reaction of “eh, what? I don’t want those”, nevermind that the description of them causes a reaction of “oh, those would be great when it’s freezing in the house and I’m trying to play World of Warcraft…”), but I have no picture because I have had no daylight hours to take a photo and the black refuses to photograph well with the flash. I’m blaming it on the 30% silk content.

I’ve also made progress on the Branching Out doll-scarf. Interestingly, because I have been consumed with this whole wpi thing, I took the 2 ply handspun laceweight that I’m using to knit the doll-scarf and wrapped it around the ruler and got 20 wraps per inch. How on earth can I get 20 wraps per inch on yarn that is much much thinner than yarn that I got 19 wpi on? I know, I know. I got the 19 wpi before I washed it, but even before I washed the regular 3 ply yarn, it felt much thicker. I am consumed with this wpi business now. I’m so close to rounding up all the yarns in the house and writing down the wpi for each and the ball band designation.

And since I made the admission on the blog about trying to spin gossamer weight yarn for the Wedding Ring Shawl (what I didn’t admit is that I now know how absolutely foolish that ambition was), I’ve been pulling out the pattern again and again and stroking the little yarn samples while thumbing through the pattern. I’m rather obsessive over how I do this since I still don’t have the pattern copied yet and I have a huge fear that I’ll ruin the $50 pattern by touching it with grimy hands or tables or by other unappreciative people who do not realize that this pattern is now unavailable for ten years and I have a burning need to knit it. Soon. Ish. But I was juggling in my head my finances and trying to see how I was now going to afford the yarn for this pattern (I didn’t say I didn’t have the yarn yet hm?), and while doing this I started browsing the web for US companies or branches of companies or distributors who had comparable gossamer weight yarn to what is offered on the Heirloom Knitting site. I found out that Habu Textiles has a merino yarn that is 747 yards per ounce and the Gossamer Merino is 744 yards per ounce (750 meters per 25 grams). This should be very comparable right? Right? They also have silk yarn that is 1058 yards per ounce compared to the Gossamer Silk that is 1085 yards per ounce (700 meters per 20 grams). The cost of enough Habu merino yarn to make the Wedding Ring Shawl and have extra? $20 (actually $20 is 8 ounces worth, which is way over the yardage you need, but that’s how Habu is selling the white merino). I’m thinking I’m going to call them up and see if they can’t tell me whether the yarn is plied or singles. The silk pretty positively looks like singles on the website, with the merino I have not even a hint from looking at the picture.

And that’s all I’ve got for this week. Just musings and thoughts. This weekend is looking to be snowed in, so I should have plenty of time to play.

Stuck in a rut?

I’ve been consumed by the spinning lately. Knitting just isn’t doing it for me. After the toil of work last week I really just wanted a nice weekend. And I got it, but it means I’m dregging the depths for blog fodder. I’ll try to have something more interesting by the end of the week.

But for today, I have a thought. Soon after I started spinning I became consumed with the idea of spinning gossamer weight yarn for Sharon Miller’s Wedding Ring Shawl (I bought the pattern over last summer after obsessing for months). The Branching Out lace from last post? I don’t have the wpi for the yarn, but that little sample was knit on US size 1 needles (2.5mm) and only measures around 2 inches (5cm?) across. It’s tiny. But after spinning at that weight and near that weight for so long (around 7 months now), I’ve needed a break.

3 ply yarns

Enter my attempts to spin 3 ply yarns. I introduced them in a previous post, but I am completely in love with them. They seem like real yarn in a way the gossamer 2 ply yarns never did. Might have something to do with the the fact that I’m just now getting the hang of plying on my wheel. The lazy kate that comes with the Fricke wheel does a much better job as a bobbin holder than a true lazy kate. There’s no tension and the bobbins tend to spin up the poles. Once (not when I was actually plying, but when I was winding the yarn off the bobbin onto the niddy noddy) the bobbin actually clear the pole and went flying. Not good. I ended up making a homemade lazy kate out of a box and some long metal knitting needles that I’ve never used and probably never will.

So, according to this website and several others,

laceweight WPI

The thinner, regular 3 ply, which has 19 wraps per inch, is laceweight. And I have 92 yards of it. I have no clue what to do with 92 yards of 3 ply lace weight, but I can always make a rabbit I guess.

navajo plied wpi

The thicker, navajo plied yarn, has somewhere between 10 and 13 wpi because it wasn’t terribly even. This would make it between light worsted and bulky. The thing that bugs me? I’ve held that yarn, wound that yarn, squoosed it. It’s not bulky. It’s somewhere between sport and worsted. Now I’m wondering if I did this wrong. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself. I have 72 yards of this. I have no clue why I only made such a small amount. 72 yards? Too much for just a swatch, too little for a hat or a single sock or anything really. Maybe I’ll play with a large cable swatch.

I cannot tell you enough how much I love these little off amounts of yarn. They have a nice crunchiness but aren’t scratchy. They had a weird alcohol-y gas-y smell before I washed them, but now they just smell like wool and shampoo.

The other thing I did this weekend other than play with the little bits of yarn above?

Red superwash singles

I spun more of the red merino superwash. Sometimes this stuff pulls apart with a breath of air and sometimes I struggle to pull without breaking anything because it’s so grabby. It’s supposed to be superwash, so I’m not sure what’s going on. Can you felt superwash? I realize buying on ebay is a bit of gamble and maybe this isn’t superwash at all. I won’t complain though because it’s turning out wonderfully, even if I do have to be careful with it.

Back to work with me now.

Edited to update: So I have some Knitpicks Gloss that I’m using to make Bear some fingerless gloves. Knitpicks says Gloss is fingering weight yarn and I believe it. But I wrapped it around the same ruler I used on my handspun and I got 14 WPI. I’ll take a picture later if need be. According to those websites I linked to earlier in the post 14 WPI is sport weight. Sport weight?!? Either I’m doing this wrong (It looks freaking simple, but I’ll admit, I’ve been known to f*** up simple looking things), or I think there might be an issue here about naming conventions and wraps per inch. And I have to say, I rewrapped the laceweight handspun on the ruler because when I was winding it into a ball I kept looking at thinking it was might hefty for laceweight. Yeah, I got between 14 and 16 WPI. Maybe I am doing this wrong…

Edited again: I forgot to mention that the second laceweight reading was post-washing and the first was pre-washing. Duh. That stuff fluffed. It’s the American Wool 54-56′s Top from Woodland Woolworks

latest projects

I only had two hours of sleep last night because of work and I didn’t get to see Grey’s or do any spinning despite the fact that Thursday is usually my spinning day. I was at work until 4:30 this morning. It paid off, but it means I don’t have the greatest entry in the world today, despite having some plans.

Actually, I can hardly think well enough to type, so lemme just show you fun pictures and add some comments ok?

3ply with penny

This is the latest spinning I’ve done. I meant to get the wpi for both, but now all I have to show is a picture with a penny for scale. I almost didn’t even have that.

3ply without penny

I almost just had this picture. Which I love because it shows how even the thinner (lace-weight? It’s definitely tiny, I really wish I had the wpi) yarn is than the thicker. The thinner was a regular three ply. The second is an attempt to spin sock weight (why oh why didn’t I take the time to measure the wpi). It’s navajo plied and it seems loose where the “bumps” are from pulling the yarn through itself. I get why it’s like that, but I don’t know how to fix it or whether it will fix itself. I only have enough for one sock, so I’ll be attempting navajo plying again soon.

red roving, compact and drafted

But not immediately, because I’m going to play with this superwash. I picked it up from ebay a while ago, but I had to play around some more before I felt capable of handling this stuff. The compact roving is very dense and dark and it pulls into the soft, slick, shiny fiber that spins wonderfully. But I do have to be very careful drafting because the slightest nips or tangles in the fiber show up horribly in the spinning. I tried to take a picture of the spinning I did Tuesday (before the work craziness started), but it was dark and I don’t know how to use my camera that well. I just got this super bright blurry red streak with lots of dark around it. This I’ll either two ply for some lace or three ply for some socks/hat/mittens depending on how the color turns out. I have to say, while the color doesn’t look very deep in the photo, the drafted stuff is a nice red, albeit not as deep as the compacted stuff. And the yarn maintains the shininess of the drafted fiber and the color looks much deeper. I’m going to have to wash and knit a sample to see how it goes.

handspun lace

Lasty, here is a picture of some lace I’ve been knitting in odd moments with some of the first handspun off the wheel. I dry pinned this out to show the lace. I have a feeling wet blocking will make it look tons better.

close up

Couldn’t resist a close up. :-)

Now I’m off to try to get some work done despite the muffled feeling in my head.

Crazy Spinning

The post today is a bit long. I meant to spread this post out over two entries, but then there was bad weather and computer problems, which meant I didn’t get organized until today. But this post is all about spinning, my spinning.

Handspun in the bushes

I learned to spin last May when I went to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. I bought some fiber there and a heavy Ashford spindle. I also bought some fiber on ebay, so for a few months I spun almost a pounds worth of fiber on this spindle (and now I wish I’d taken a picture of it too, but I didn’t think yesterday when I was taking pictures. It’s not super special or anything. It looks exactly like the one here, only a bit more banged up from when I dropped it while I was learning. I think I paid just about that price for it too).

Honestly, I had gone to the Festival for the express purpose of learning to spin, but I’m super shy and a bit of coward when by myself, so I walked around and observed this one lady who was showing another one how to draft and spin. Actually I think the barn was for spinning demonstrations. I had walked in there because I thought it was, but mostly there were women spinning on wheels. I should have just asked someone, but like I said, I’m a coward. Well, anyways, my attention was noticed and I got a five minute lesson on drafting and spinning and it felt so very good.

Wool Silk handspun

So yes, I spun on the spindle and the singles became thinner and thinner and more consistent to the point where I was spinning too thin for the spindle I was using (still the Ashford Student spindle). The yarn above is handspun that I made on the spindle. I have enough for a baby’s hat. Bear finally growled at me that I needed to do something about the spindle dropping already, so I went shopping for a smaller spindle. Only, when I did that I saw wheels. And I dreamed. And dreamed. And apparently babbled on and on because Bear finally told me that we could afford one, so just get it already (he was slightly confused on how expensive some of these wheels are). But I found the Fricke wheels and the Ashford Kiwi and I hemmed and hawwed for what seemed like forever. Then in September, I bought a Fricke S-160 DT:

Fricke Wheel

I love this wheel. We’ve been having issues (for some reason it shudders and shakes like a mad thing when I try to use any of the higher ratios), but I love this wheel. I had it together and spinning in about 2 hours after I’d gotten it. And I have a feeling if I’d known more about wheels, I could have been done faster. I spin at least every week, usually on Thursday nights while I watch a tv show or two. Sometimes I’ll turn on the tv just so I can spin. I could spin without the tv on, but somehow it always feels funny to spin without listening to something. The news is often good for this. Several people have mentioned spinning and listening to books on tape, so I’ll probably try that soon. It seems like a wonderful idea.

So the weekend was great. I went out to eat at a hot pot place with some friends I haven’t seen in forever.

HotPot and Knitting
We’ve already devoured almost everything we ordered in the photo, but it was a wonderful meal, with wonderful people.

Then yesterday I finally got the pictures of the wheel and a bobbin shot of some yarn I navajo plied. When I was taking these pictures, Little Bear thought it sounded like great fun to spin and decided to help.

Bear Spinning

It was much too cold outside though, so I took some pictures of the yarn on the bobbin:

Navajo Plied yarn on bobbin

There’s another shot of this in my picture gallery. I don’t know why, but I can’t get a crisp shot of the yarn. I’m not sure I like navajo plying. It was difficult and rather cumbersome. Probably I’m doing it wrong. I’ve never seen someone else do it in person (like most of my spinning and knitting, I read about it on a website or a book). One of my goals when I go back to the Sheep and Wool in May will be to either watch someone doing it or to ask someone to show me how. The yarn is rather uneven too. I don’t know why, but I was having a horrible time when I was spinning the singles trying to keep to a consistent thickness. Usually it isn’t this difficult, but then I was trying to hold to grist that would create sock yarn. Usually I spin either worsted weight or lace/near gossamer weight. Also, I wasn’t pushing myself at all. At the time I was crazy busy and the spinning kept my mind from going crazy along with the rest of my life. I think next I’ll spin something with some color to it since soon it will be May again and I’ll have a chance to buy some more roving (wee!).