Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Learning to Spin

I've been wanting to learn to spin before it seemed like such a bandwagon thing, but the timing of my first spinning classes happens to coincide with half the knitting world doing the same thing. Which just means I have good company!

On June 11th, I took a 2.5 hour drop spindle class. We got simple drop spindles and fiber to play with and take home. It took the whole 2.5 hours to get the idea that you pinch with one hand, draft with the other, and then release the twist to let it travel up the drafted fiber and ta-da - yarn.

I completely overspun the first single I spun, so I actually ran it through the spindle again to loosen the overspin. Which, of course, was overkill - the singles are so loosely plied that they are basically singles still. But it's my very first handspun. I wound up with 1.9 of very chunky two-ply handspun Coopworth wool in natural colors:

Then, this weekend, I started a two-part wheel spinning class. I love spinning on a wheel. It goes so fast! I'm glad I took the drop spindle class first, because I already understood the pinch-draw-release combo move, and it made for a fun class. Here's the bobbin I spun in class:

These singles will probably still make yarn larger than I typically knit with, but it's much more even and thinner than the singles from my drop spindle. And, we even got to take wheels home for the week. (This is an Ashford Traditional Saxony-style. Next weekend I get to try a Lendrum Castle-style wheel.)

(My cat checking things out.)

Last night I subscribed to Spin-Off and then today, I signed up for the Funky Carolina Fiber Club. No going back for me!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Overly Ambitious?

* Number of days spent on my recent trip to Portland, OR: 3
* Number of knitting-hours spent in the car on said trip: 7
* Number of knitting projects I brought with me: 4
* Number of projects I actually worked on: 1
* Number of rows I knitted on said project during said 7 hours: 20
* Number of minutes each row took me, on average: 21

When planning for a trip, I seem to think every minute spent away from home will be spent knitting. But between navigating for my partner while driving through an unfamiliar town, time spent visiting with friends and family, time spent photographing kids playing, and time playing with the kids, there wasn't a whole lot of knitting that actually happened. I also always seem to forget how long those final rows of triangular lace shawls are! I seem to think that 20 rows left means I'll be done in about an hour. No, not so much.

* Number of knitting stores I visited in Portland: 1
* Number of skeins of yarn I bought: 0
(Took some willpower though! Knit/Purl had an amazing Koigu selection! My subscription to the Sundara Seasons Club, my desire to only purchase yarn I can't get at home, and my partner standing next to me, kept me from walking away with a lovely souvenir.)

I did finish knitting the Icy Shetland Triangle shortly after I made it home from the trip.

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: Sundara Sock Yarn in Pale Skies over Sugared Violet, approx 1.7 skeins
Needles: US size 6

Two skeins of the yarn, 700 yards, brought me to a finished shawl of 13 lace repeats plus the edging. I'm pretty sure there is enough yarn left that I could have done 14 repeats. Pre-blocked, it's measuring 50.5 x 21 inches. Which brings me to another statistic:

* Number of finished shawls I still need to block before they are "FOs": 3

(From top to bottom: Icy Shetland Triangle, Lace Leaf Shawl, and Tuscany.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Swatching Feather & Fan

I realized I'd never really shown off the swatching I did for the Great Feather & Fan Shawl Project of 2008.

Sock Hop Handspun Yarn, needles in US size 8

I like the fabric that the yarn and needles make. I love the blend of colors from the handspun yarn. (Also, side note, speaking of handspun, I'm taking my first spinning class tonight - drop spindles!)

I find some of the color changes to not work as well as I'd like. So I'm planning to be a bit organic with switching skeins - I'll go by feel rather than by number of repeats knitted, and I'll look for a complimentary rather than jarring color when ready to switch skeins.

All I need to do is figure out which pattern to use. I'm looking at four different ones (all Ravelry links): Evelyn A. Clark's Shoalwater Shawl, Sarah Bradberry's Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl, Myrna Stahman's Mirialis, and Danielle Miner's Pacific Waves Shawl. I've started to get annoyed with the way triangular shawls don't sit comfortably on the shoulders, so I'm leading towards one of the last two, which are Faroese and L-shaped, respectively. If any of my readers have experience with Faroese or L-shaped shawls, I'd love some feedback!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fridays are for...

Is it Eye Candy or Yarn Pr0n on Fridays? I'm not sure. Either way, the following will surely count:

The six yarns & colorways from the Sundara Yarn 2007-2008 Seasons Club, Winter. She really has an eye for color, doesn't she?

Clockwise from upper left: Fingering Silky Merino in Winter Sky, Aran Silky Merino in Charcoal over Blue Lagoon (simply divine - and we got three skeins of it!), Silk Lace in Black over Fuschia, Sock Yarn in Candied Chrome, Sock Yarn in Burnt Cranberries, and Sock Yarn in Emerald over Charcoal. I signed up for another year of the club and stuck with Winter.

This is the "Icy Shetland Triangle" that I'm knitting out of two skeins of Sundara Sock Yarn in Pale Skies over Sugared Violet. (One skein down, up to one more to go). I really love this yarn for lace, and I love the play of colors without wild variegation. It's also as soft as buttah.

I couldn't justify the expense, but now I regret that I didn't sign up for two installments of Winter, since two skeins in the right amount for a shawl but one is too little in my book. My single skeins will likely become scarves, cowls, or baby sweaters. Or maybe I'll be able to do some trading and wind up with enough for more shawls.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Project Spectrum Earth

I was a little more involved with the posting for Project Spectrum Elements - Earth than I was for Fire. What can I say? I love Earth in so many ways, and green is one of my favorite colors. Here are the end-of-the-element mosaics showing my contributions:

1. Birch Detail, 2. Birch in Process, 3. Birch Edges, 4. Birch Swatch in Hemlock, 5. Fern Leaf Lace Pattern Detail, 6. Birch Swatch, 7. Four Skeins, 8. Hemlock Detail, 9. Stacked, 10. Berroco Ultra Alpaca, 11. Green Yarn Cake, 12. Indigo-Dyed Super Sock Yarn, 13. Indigo-Dyed Super Sock Yarn, 14. Green Varigated Bib, 15. Lagoon, 16. Marron Oscuro Hank, 17. Vaa Hank, 18. Malabrigo Chunky, 19. Foliage x 2, 20. Foliage x 2, 21. Side View 2, 22. Camel Yarn, 23. Handspun Camel Yarn, 24. Handspun yarn, 25. Handspun Yarn

1. Cupcakes, 2. Strawberries, 3. Tomato Flowers, 4. Sweet Woodruff, 5. Cucumber, 6. Snap Peas, 7. Tomato Starts, 8. Snap Peas, 9. Sprouted Seeds, 10. Sprouting Snap Peas, 11. Seeds, 12. Lemon Balm, 13. Oregano, 14. Hens & Chickens, 15. Fungus on a Tree, 16. Salal Berries and Sun-Bleached Tree, 17. Beach Stones, 18. Maple Tree, 19. Curly Vine, 20. Beach Stones, 21. Maple Leaves, 22. Chickweed Flowers, 23. Beach Stones, 24. Red Alder Tree and Moss, 25. Turkey Tail Fungus & Moss

In knitting news, I finished the Lace Leaf Shawl but haven't blocked it yet, have completed 7 repeats of the Icy Shetland Triangle, and ordered a scale so that I can make a decision about frogging Birch or not. I have also picked up the languishing Sampler Blanket again for Project Spectrum Elements- Air and am thinking it might end up as a baby blanket.