Yarn Cakes

Lately I’ve been knitting nothing but fingerless mitts. I love knitting fingerless mitts and plan to continue knitting them for the foreseeable future. But my handspun is calling to me. So I got my wooden swift out of the closet,

Wooden swift, ready for action!

Wooden swift, ready for action!


and pulled the “mashed potato” stool into place.

My ball winder is at home atop the "mashed potato" stool.

My ball winder is at home atop the “mashed potato” stool.

This wooden step stool belonged to my MIL. She kept it in the kitchen behind the door that led to a small hallway to the back door. Her house was old and so was her kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of counter space, so when she made mashed potatoes, she pulled this stool out and sat the hot pan of potatoes on the top of the stool while she mashed them. I never saw her use the stool for anything except mashing potatoes, so I have always called it the mashed potato stool. The stool now sits in my dining room/office next to my computer desk and is the permanent home of my ball winder. My MIL would be pleased to know her mashed potato stool is now an integral part of my yarn-winding “station.” 🙂

After getting the swift set up and the ball winder in place, I wound some of my handspun yarn into yarn cakes.

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

Each yarn now has a designated knitting project assigned to it.

Roses in Her Eyes, a 2-ply spun from a batt from Bohoknitterchic,

Yarn cake on a plate

is designated to become a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t decided for certain, but I’ll probably use a simple 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 ribbing and keep it very plain so that the beauty of the yarn will shine through.  The yarn has a lot of shine, sparkle, color, and texture. It’s a bit thick and thin, and a little slubby, so I plan to keep it simple. I hope it’s as much fun to knit as it was to spin.

Vintage Roses from Corgi Hill Farm will become a Downtown Cowl.

A Polwarth and silk blend

And finally, the pièce de résistance is this beautiful monochrome gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

A lovely monochrome gradient of Polwarth top

that I spun and chain-plied to get a beautiful skein

Just look at the beautiful color transitions

that is now this beautiful yarn cake.

So lovely all wound up

This yarn needs a pattern that is suitable for a gradient yarn, and I think The Age of Steam and Brass is perfect.

I haven’t decided which handspun project to cast on first, but in the meanwhile, I will finish Anne’s Little Twist Mitts

Mitt #2 is well underway.

and probably cast on yet another pair of fingerless mitts. They are so quick and easy, and very satisfying to knit. And even better, they are wonderful to wear. If you’ve never worn a pair, give them a try. I think you will love them as much as I do. And if you have never knitted a pair… Do. It. NOW.

And be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see lots of other hand-crafted goodies.



FO Friday–A Clapotis Is Born!

I don’t normally do viral knitting. For those of you who aren’t knitters, or those who are but aren’t on Ravelry, when a particular pattern becomes super popular on Ravelry and it seems that everyone and his mother is knitting it, it is said to have gone viral, hence “viral knitting.” Knitting what everyone else is knitting really isn’t my thing, but when a pattern becomes very popular, there is usually good reason for it. A few years ago, when the Clapotis became THE thing to knit, I passed on it because after looking at the pattern in Knitty, I thought it was about the ugliest piece of knitting I had ever seen. I couldn’t even begin to understand why it was so popular. I explained all this in an earlier post.

But sometimes things change. After finishing spinning and plying the BFL in Cool Madras that I bought from Corgi Hill Farm, I just knew the yarn wanted to be a scarf of some sort. Clapotis came to mind, and I looked through project pictures on Ravelry and realized that it is actually a lovely design and that it would be perfect for my Cool Madras yarn. And, voilà! A Clapotis is born.

A Clapotis bun

Clapotis partially blocked

Clapotis on the blocking boards

The pattern is super easy and fun to knit, and when it is blocked, it looks really good. I don’t know whether I’ll ever knit another Clapotis. Knitting scarves is not my favorite thing. But I’m really happy I gave Clapotis a try. It’s just what the doctor ordered for my beautiful Cool Madras handspun.

WIP Wednesday

Yes. WIP Wednesday is here again, and I have a lot to share with you.

As you know from reading my previous blog entry, I finally started a knitting project using some of my handspun yarn. The lovely 2-ply fingering weight yarn I spun from a 5-oz braid of BFL in the Cool Madras color way from Corgi Hill Farm is on its way to becoming a Clapotis scarf. It is knitting up very nicely, but it is quite misshapen and the sides want to curl up.

Cool Madras Clapotis Scarf in progress

As is, it looks pretty yucky. I wanted to see what the scarf would look like after blocking. Why do all that knitting only to end up with something that resembles yarn vomit? After all, the reason I didn’t jump on the Clapotis bandwagon back when every other knitter did is that the Clapotis pictured with the pattern in Knitty looks like hell. It’s just about the ugliest piece of knitting I’ve ever seen. It rivals the socks I knitted from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Rainbow colorway, although I don’t think there is anything uglier than Lorna’s Laces Rainbow colorway knitted up into socks.

Ugly socks from Lorna’s Laces Rainbow, perhaps the ugliest sock colorway in existence.

Just in case you think it’s a fluke and only my socks in the Rainbow colorway are super ugly, take a look at this picture of socks knitted in this colorway for Arlo Guthrie. Or this picture (and these are the best looking Rainbow socks I can find). The yarn is gorgeous in the skein, but like so many Lorna’s Laces colorways, it knits up ugly.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the topic at hand, Clapotis. I really didn’t understand why any knitter would be all hot to trot to knit a Clapotis since the one pictured in the pattern is fugly beyond words. But thanks to the magic that is Ravelry, I was able to view Clapotis after Clapotis knitted in lovely yarns and properly dressed. It’s really a very lovely pattern, and once you get started, it’s pretty mindless knitting without being totally boring.

I wanted to be absolutely certain that my Clapotis scarf would look good when it’s finished, so I did the only thing I could possibly do to put an end to my doubts. I  put the live stitches on a holder, gave the scarf a good soaking, then pinned it out to dry.

Clapotis wet-blocked

The scarf looked really good pinned out. So far so good, but  will the scarf curl up once I remove the pins?

Clapotis unpinned after blocking

NO! It stayed flat. Yay!

Next step: What will happen if I pick it up?

Just look at how nicely it drapes.

Well, it has a lovely shape and beautiful drape, and the yarn is deliciously soft.

I love the effect of the diagonal stripes of the dropped stitches going in the opposite direction of the diagonal stripes of the colors.

I cannot help but get tickled pink when I am knitting along on this scarf and realize that I made the yarn myself. Knitting with your own handspun yarn is a kick! 🙂

I could stop right here. A Clapotis scarf in gorgeous handspun BFL is hard to top. But I have another project OTN to share, and it’s very striking, too. It is just a plain vanilla sock toe that is destined to become my very first knee sock, but just look at the color!

Plain vanilla toe-up knee sock in progress

The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll fingering weight in Blue Yonder Tonal. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful blue yarn. It’s perfect for a plain vanilla sock because the color speaks for itself. And plain vanilla is perfect for this project because I can work the calf increases without having to figure out how to work the stitch pattern into the increases. When trying something new in knitting, it is usually better to start out simple, at least for me it is.

Both of these projects are intended for the boy’s sock-worthy GF. The knee socks are actually a special request from her, and there is little that knitters love more than knitting something for someone who specifically asks for it and really appreciates the time and effort that goes into creating a custom, hand-knit garment.

So far we have a scarf in progress and a knee sock in progress. How could our day get any better? Well, let’s add a spinning WIP. I’ve been working away on one of the braids of BFL/Sparkle that I bought from Woolgatherings.

Can you see the sparkle in this yarn?

I’m spinning this top very thin and plan to try my hand at making a 3-ply fingering weight yarn. I might end up chain-plying it instead. The way I’m spinning the fiber creates very long color repeats, so chain-plying would definitely give me a self-striping yarn. But even if I ply three singles together, the colors should stay separate for the most part because I simply divided the braid into thirds lengthwise, so the colors should match up pretty well with only small sections of barber pole. I’m thinking that a true 3-ply would be better for sock yarn than chain ply, but I’m such a newbie when it comes to spinning and knitting with handspun that I really don’t know whether it makes any difference.

So there you have it–three WIP. Three? Only three? Must. Cast. On. 🙂

The Queen Is Dead; Long Live The Queen!

Get ready. Wait for it. Wait for it.

The Spider Queen Shawl stretched to dry

I stretched her hard enough that I had to use a couple of paperweights to keep the blocking boards from buckling, and she’s about 53 inches square. When I unpin her and she relaxes a little, she’ll probably lose an inch or two, but, still, she’s a nice size for a square shawl.

Here’s a closer look at the center. The difference in the color is due to some of the shawl being over the carpet while the rest is over the blocking boards.

The Spider Queen center close up

She no longer looks like something my cat horked up.

Here’s a close up of one of the corners. I’m very pleased with how my corner attachment technique turned out.

The Spider Queen Shawl corner

Oh, and here’s a picture of my newest project, a Clapotis scarf knitting in my very own handspun, Cool Madras BFL from Corgi Hill Farm.

Cool Madras Clapotis Scarf

I’m using a 4mm Aero circular and it’s knitting up really quickly. The pattern is very simple and easy to memorize, and the yarn is heavenly. I can’t believe I made the yarn myself. 🙂

I’m Such A Slacker

I’ve gotten so much fibery-good stuff done since my last blog entry, but I’ve really slacked off in keeping all my dear readers up to date. So be prepared for a flurry of short but picture-packed posts, starting with this one.

Remember when I showed you this fiber that I bought via Etsy?

Corgi Hill Farm BFL in Cool Madras

It became this,

BFL on the spindle

then this.

The fiber divided in half, spun on two different spindles

I wound the singles into this ginormous plying ball,

Plying ball next to a pee gee ball for scale

and plied them to make a nice 2-ply yarn.

Corgi Hill Farm BFL in Cool Madras plied on a Schacht Hi-Lo 2.2 ounce

The 2-ply yarn was then skeined on a niddy noddy, washed and dried,

Cool Madras 2-ply drying on the rack

and wound into a skein.

5 ounces/ 566 yards of 2-ply, fingering-weight handspun yarn

The yarn close up

I love the way the colors of this yarn blend, and I’m very pleased with how consistent this yarn is. Oh, it isn’t perfectly consistent, but, hey! It’s handspun. It isn’t supposed to look like it was spun in a mill. But it’s pretty damned good for someone who had never even touch a spindle before July.

I have plans for this yarn, but I’m not ready to let you in on them yet. I hope you don’t mind waiting, but if you do? Too bad. 🙂

Goodies In The Mail

Last Friday I hit the jackpot. I got two, count ’em, two fiber-related packages in the mail.

Friday’s mail brought me two fiber-related packages

The little white poly-bag is from Corgi Hill Farm in Vermont while the big box is from Knit Picks.

I opened the CHF package first. It contained the two braids of fiber I had ordered

Contents of the white poly-bag

and a surprise gift in a little white paper bag–3 pieces of candy (you cannot see the 3rd piece in the picture) and 10 g of beautifully hand-dyed Bluefaced Leicester roving.

Contents of the little white “thank-you” bag

You can appreciate the color of the BFL better from this picture that was taken in natural sunlight.

Lovely purple BFL from Corgi Hill Farm

Unfortunately, you cannot appreciate how freaking soft the BFL roving feels from looking at the picture. You have to actually touch it. And I don’t have “feel-ivision.” 🙂

The lovely braids of Corgi Hill Farm fiber are gorgeous and the pictures do not do them justice.

I took pictures in natural light, too. They don’t do the colors justice, either.

Corgi Hill Farm Polwarth/silk blend in Vintage Roses

Corgi Hill Farm Bluefaced Leicester in Cool Madras

I am saving this gorgeous fiber for the time when I’m more skilled at spinning and have at least some idea of how to spin hand-painted yarn without running the different colors together and turning them to mud. I envision each of these colorways becoming a fingering-weight 2-ply that will become either socks or a scarf, but my novice spindling skills are not there yet. They are not even close to being there yet. But they are on their way to being there.

On the other hand, the 10 grams of purple BFL will definitely be practice fiber. I’m looking forward to seeing how it spins compared to the mohair/Shetland blend I used for my very first handspun yarn, and it will be fun to see how gradient-dyed yarn will turn out.

Next up–I’ll open the box from Knit Picks.