In The Loop

I really love spinning. I don’t know why it took me so long to give it a try, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been spinning for over two years now, and I love it more than ever.

One of my favorite things to spin is Loop Bullseye Bumps from Loop Fiber Studio. I love the Bullseye Bumps so much that I joined the Surprise Me! Bullseye Bump Club. You can choose sparkle or no sparkle; I currently am subscribed to “no sparkle,” but I love the fiber with sparkle, too, and will probably switch back to sparkle at some point.

Most of the Bullseye Bumps are gradients, that is, there are long sections of color that gradually change into another color. But recently Steph, the genius behind Loop, has started doing some Bullseye Bumps that repeat the colors so that you get a self-striping yarn. The Bullseye Bumps really lend themselves to chain plying, but I sometimes spin the first half of the fiber onto one bobbin, and the second half onto another bobbin, and ply the two together to get a barber pole or heathered effect.

Anyway, here is my most recent completed Loop Project. The color way is Girl Power, and, yes, SPARKLE! I spun the bump end to end, then chain plied it. The spinning and plying were both done on my Schacht Ladybug, the spinning in double drive and the plying in Scotch tension.

Loop Girl Power Loop Bullseye Bump Club (9/13) Girl Power 5.2 oz, merino, bamboo, tussah silk, angelina (It sparkles!)

Loop Girl Power chain-plied on the bobbin

On the niddy noddy

Off the niddy noddy. You can see the sparkle. :-)

The colors are quite intense.

The finished skein, about 680 yards/5.2 ounces of fingering-weight 3-ply (chain ply)

A different view of the finished skein

Riddle Me This

So, why is there a shipping box sitting on its side in my living room?

DSC04750_2

Because I haz cat. :-)

Siobhan loves her box.

Siobhan is so pretty.

Peace, Fiber Work & Health

Pinko Knitter:

This blog says it much better than I ever could.

Originally posted on The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts:

For the last 10 years I have lived with a serious disease that is exacerbated by stress. Thus the calm and centered feeling I get from engaging in any fiber work – from knitting to weaving – has been crucial for me.  Part of coping – in addition to the medical establishment, exercise and nutrition, of course – has been (sadly) no longer reading literature from my academic field.  (I get both excited at staying current in my field and frustrated because I have no “outlet” for it: no graduate students to work with, no undergrads to spell bind, no clients to consult with, no books and articles to publish.)

That said, I read with semi-regularity (including Harvard Business Review, New York Times, The Guardian, Mother Jones and Slate) but nothing close like I did before I retired.  Thor subscribes to several journals that I read: Bloomberg’s, Wall Street…

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Does This Count As Finished?

Yes, it’s FO Friday, and I’m posting this even though it isn’t technically finished.

I took this lovely braid of BFL from Turtlepurl,

Boys Have Cooties is the name of this colorway.

split it “fractally” and spun it into singles onto two bobbin on my Ashford Traveller in DD,

A bobbin full of Boys Have Cooties

A bobbin full of Boys Have Cooties

 

Both bobbins on the kate

Both bobbins on the kate

plied it on my Travvy in ST into a 2-ply yarn,

Plying in progress

Plying in progress

and ended up with this lovely light-fingering weight, 2-ply yarn.

Boys Have Cooties straight off the niddy noddy

Boys Have Cooties straight off the niddy noddy

Blue and green make pretty. :-)

I haven’t set the twist yet because I ran out of wool wash. I could use a little dish soap or shampoo, but that would require rinsing. And I’m too lazy for that. I’ll just wait until the Eucalan I ordered arrives to finish the yarn.

Visit Tami’s FO Friday to see more lovely hand-crafted stuff.

 

Nuts To Knots

So, I started a pair of socks in Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, which is a self-striping yarn. The yarn comes in 50g balls, and I wanted the socks to be identical twins, so I was very careful to begin sock #1 at the very start of a color change so that it would be simple to start sock #2 at the exact same place in the color sequence.

I decided on plain 2 x 2 rib socks because–self-striping yarn! Duh! I cast on and had knitted about two inches of the leg, and there it was. A big, old, ugly knot in the yarn. Knots are a fact of life in knitting. Normally they aren’t that big a deal. But this is self-striping yarn, and I’m planning to make the socks match, so this knot definitely throws a spanner in the works.

For the uninitiated, self-striping sock yarn is dyed in such a way that the different colors form stripes as you knit without the knitter having to change to a different yarn of a different color each time and having all those god-awful ends to weave in. When a knot appears, that means the color sequence will be thrown off, and maybe even reversed. If you aren’t going for totally symmetrical socks–and fraternal twins have many charms, I must say–a knot in the yarn isn’t a big deal. But when you want the socks to look the same, it’s a cosmic shake-up.

Fortunately, the knot appeared pretty early in the ball, so I just ripped out what I had knitted to the knot, found the beginning of the next complete color, and started over. I found the joy, for sure. It was smooth sailing all the way to the tip of the toe. No more knots in ball number one. YAY!

Regia Striped Rib Socks sock #1

Regia Striped Rib Socks sock #1

I pulled out the second ball of yarn, found the beginning of the appropriate color repeat, and cast on the second sock. As I knitted on the second sock, I was feeling pretty good because my socks were matching up perfectly. I was knitting along happily, and maybe a little smugly, and had completed about two inches of the leg when–What’s this! Oh, NO! I can’t believe it. Another freaking knot. The knitting gods were definitely not smiling on me.

I had no choice but to take what I had knitted so far off the needles and start all over again. After finding just the right spot in the yarn, I cast on again and started knitting. Thankfully, ball number two had no more knots, either.

Sock #2 is nearly completed.

Sock #2 is nearly completed.

Look at how well the stripes match. :-)

Look at how well the stripes match. :-)

I would be in my happy place right now if only my knotty story ended here. But, sadly, it continues. This past weekend was my son’s wedding.

My DS and my DIL saying I do!

My DS and my DIL saying I do!

As you know, my son’s GF is most knit-worthy, having received from me numerous hand-knitted socks, a scarf, fingerless mitts, three sweaters, and a lace shawl. I’m very happy to say that she is now officially, legally my DIL. The nuptials were in Pittsburgh, and that meant over 6 hours total on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and that meant I needed a take-along knitting project. The Regia Striped Rib socks were not the optimal choice because they are on double-pointed needles.

I don’t know about you, but when I knit on DPNs in the car, I always, without fail, drop a needle. Not. Good. For car knitting, I much prefer circular knitting because when I drop a needle, it doesn’t go anywhere because it’s, um, attached. Nearly klutz-proof. So shortly before we left for the ‘Burgh, I grabbed a ball of sock yarn and a couple of Ciao Goo lace circulars. I thought I would do two circulars, but I ended up doing magic loop. I have a history of hating magic loop for socks, but I think I’m now in love. Magic Loop works really well with Ciao Goo needles.

At this point, your eyes have probably rolled back into your head, and you are saying to yourself–I thought she was going to tell us more about knots in her yarn. Instead she’s rambling on and on about highways and Magic Loop. Get to the point, already! You do have a point, don’t you?

Fair enough. Here’s my point. DH is driving west on the PA Tpk, and I’m in the passenger seat knitting away on a pair of 2 x 2 rib socks in a really funky Opal color way. I’ve completed nearly two inches of the leg when, there it is. A knot. What’s up with all these knots in my sock yarn?!?!?!?!? At least I didn’t have to worry about this knot disrupting the color pattern on my sock because this yarn knits up to look like bird shit on a blue rug clouds in a blue sky.

The leg unstretched

The leg unstretched

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

Hey! I managed to post a couple of WIP for WIP Wednesday! Check out Tami’s blog for more WIP.

 

Crossing The Finish Line

The 2014 Tour de Fleece ended last Saturday. I realize I’m a little late posting my finish line, but what can I say? I’m a world class procrastinator. :-)

My TdF 2014 was quite the success. I reached all my goals and ended up with a lot of really nice hand-spun yarn and some new, still developing skills.

My TdF 2014 results

The yarn in the foreground is a chain-plied Merino from Greenwood Fiberworks in the color way “Holly Berry.” I wanted to improve both my skill at drafting merino and my skill at chain-plying. Both skills need lots more work, but with each project, I see improvement. The final tally for the Holly Berry Merino yarn is approximately 430 yards/127g of self-striping, sport weight yarn.

Merino chain-plied to make a self-striping yarn

I love the soft, cushy yarn, but I’m still not in love with spinning Merino wool top. It’s a bit of a challenge to draft, especially compared to BFL, Corriedale, Polwarth, and Falkland. I find Merino roving much more enjoyable to spin than Merino top–I love spinning Loop Bullseye Bumps–but I’m not giving up on Merino top. I have more in my stash and will keep working toward more consistent drafting.

The big white skein directly above the Holly Berry is a plying experiment that turned out much better than I had anticipated. Here’s the back story. Remember when I was knitting Hazel Carter’s Spider Queen Shawl? I had bought a kit from Blackberry Ridge that included both the pattern and enough B-R Thistledown yarn to knit the shawl. I swatched with the Thistledown and was very unhappy with the results.

The Thistledown yarn was too thick-and-thin to use for Spider Queen.

 

The yarn is a cobweb weight singles that unfortunately is overly thick and thin. I ended up knitting Spider Queen in J & S cobweb, which is also a bit thick and thin, but not to the same degree as Thistledown. Anyway, I ended up with a lot of Thistledown in my stash that I knew I would never use for knitting a lace shawl.

What to do with all this Thistledown? Sure, I could sell or trade it on Ravelry, but, I wondered, what would happen if I plied the singles together? I had never tried plying mill-spun singles together, and I was curious to learn how they would behave. The singles had a Z-twist, which means they had been spun clockwise, so I plied the singles together with an S-twist, counterclockwise.

Thistledown made into a 2-ply yarn on my Ladybug

Each skein of Thistledown was approximately 700 yards, and I ended up with just a little over 600 yards/4.5 oz of 2-ply fingering weight yarn. I thought I would lose more yardage than that.

Doesn’t the 2-ply look fabulous on the bobbins? So imagine my horror when I first took the yarn off the niddy noddy and saw this!

Curly yarn!

The yarn curled up like crazy, and I was afraid it had been way over-plied. This wouldn’t be the end of the world because I could always run the yarn back through my spinning wheel going clockwise to take some of the twist out, but I decided to finish the yarn before deciding whether it needed some tweaking. The yarn was still pretty curly when I took it out of the soak, but I thwacked it on the bathtub and it relaxed and balanced itself perfectly.

My 2-ply Thistledown decided to behave after a bath and a good thwacking.

I really couldn’t be happier with the results I got. Of course, the real test will come in knitting up a swatch and blocking it to see how the yarn behaves in the wild. :-)

The two beautiful Ashford bobbins at the top of the first picture are filled with singles spun from a Loop Bullseye Bump in the Sizzle color way. I spun the roving end to end onto two bobbins. After the TdF, I plied the singles together and the finished yarn is on the drying rack as I type. But since the plying wasn’t part of my TdF, no pictures of the finished yarn will appear in this post.

The remaining yarn is all my silk spinning. The beautiful skein of golden yarn is spun from Tussah silk sliver made into a 2-ply yarn. The small skein is a 2-ply made from Bombyx silk hankies, and the larger hank is 2-ply made from Bombyx silk caps. I enjoyed spinning the hankies; the caps, not so much. But both yarns are really nice.

The brown bobbin at the top of the first picture holds the singles I spun from some Bombyx silk sliver.

Sixteen grams of Bombyx silk sliver ready to be spun

The Tussah silk sliver was heavenly to spin, but the Bombyx silk sliver was beyond heavenly.

I haven’t decided what to the with the Bombyx singles yet.

Bombyx silk sliver singles on the bobbin

I am leaning toward plying them with a singles spun from wool of some sort sometime in the future, or maybe with some Thistledown. I still have a lot of it. A. Lot. :-)

I hope you enjoyed the Tour de Fleece as much as I did.

The Syncopated Alpaca Socks

It’s another Finished Object Friday, and although the Tour de Fleece is in full swing, the FO I am sharing with you today is not a spinning or plying project. It’s a pair of socks.

I call these socks The Syncopated Alpaca Socks because they are my take on Mary Henninger’s Syncopation Socks and are knitted in a scrumptious alpaca yarn from Berroco, Ultra Alpaca Fine. There was no color number or name on the label, so I have no idea what the color is called. I only know that my pictures don’t do it justice.

The Syncopated Alpaca Socks in all their glory!

The original Syncopation Socks are knitted toe-up with a gusset heel. I knitted mine cuff-down with a short row heel and finished them off with a round toe.

For the heel, I gave the Fish Lips Kiss Heel a try. I didn’t do all the measuring, nor did I make the cardboard cut-out because it simply didn’t seem necessary. Since I was knitting the socks cuff down, I simply started the heel when the leg of the sock was the length I wanted it to be. The FLKH is knitted with an inch of plain knitting on the heel stitches of the sock while maintaining the patterning on the instep stitches before beginning the short rows. This is a matter of aesthetics and is something I have done in the past when knitting my usual short-row heels.

The FLKH uses a method for making short rows that doesn’t involve wrapping stitches. Instead, you manipulate stitches from the row below the working stitch, which gives you a pair of stitches that are eventually knitted or purled together. These are called “twin stitches,” and this method of making short rows is sometimes called shadow wrap or shadow twin short rows. When all the decrease and increase rows have been worked, you end up with a very nicely-shaped and well-fitting heel. Sadly, the line of short row stitches isn’t very attractive.

My Fish Lips Kiss Heel close up.

This heel design really does fit better than any other short-row heel I have tried. I normally knit short-row heels on 60% of the stitches on my needles in order to accommodate my high instep. However, I worked this heel on just 50% of the stitches, and it fits me better than any heel I have ever tried. I think the secret is that the way the short rows are worked, you end up with an extra round between the decrease rows and the increase rows. This creates a more rounded heel pocket and hence a better fit.

Although I really don’t like the appearance of the short rows themselves, the fantastic fit more than makes up for the ugly. This is definitely my new go-to short row heel. I’ll take fit over beauty anytime when it comes to my feet. :-)

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