Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Saturday, October 14, 2006

This just in...

My heart sachet is in the Holiday 2006 Issue of Interweave Knits! I had no idea they were going to be reprinting it (though the original contract did allow for that and along with the issue of the magazine I also received a check!) and am pleased as punch that it's in there. The last time they published it, the instructions were on the website, but this time they're right there in the magazine, too.

The rest of the issue looks to be very nice. I saw several projects I remember from years past. One is a lovely scarf (though, they call it a wrap) that was on a cover (which I made and always receive remarks about) It's not really lace but uses large needles and one of the many baby mohair/silk yarns. And there's also that intarsia felted bag of Nicky Epstein's. Lots of socks and scarf patterns, too.

Can you tell I'm excited? :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

So, I'm still catching up posting about some of the summer's spinning experiments. This one shows that even the best laid plans don't always go as expected.

I started out wanting to practice some of the novelty plys I learned in Patsy Z's class at the Folk School last April. To get myself completely out of my comfort zone, I ordered some Mardi Gras BFL roving from Lisa. I chose it in part because it wasn't my normal color and also since the colors crossed the colorwheel, thought I would end up with some interesting results.
I should add that the color in these pics is not very true--it is not as bright as it appears.
Anyway, I started out with a small sample that included all the colors in the roving. I spun sample skeins to give myself an idea of how it might best be utilized. They're pictured at from left to right--Navajo plied, Thick and thin, cabled, carded neutral bloucle, softly spun singles, normal 2 ply.

I chose the Navajo ply, thick and thin, and cabled and spun 1 oz skeins of each. Because my thick and thin singles wasn't very regular and I didn't think the thick areas would meet up when plyed, I carded a strip of the roving so that it would form a neutral color and spun a thin singles thread from it. Then, I used that thread to ply with the thick and thin singles to form a spiral yarn. There are still issues with this yarn so more practicing is definitely needed. The thin areas seem to have too much twist but I'm not sure if it was because of the spinning or the plying. Patsy gave me some good tips for analyzing it in an e-mail--I just haven't gotten around to doing it, yet.

The cabled yarn was the one that really surprised me. I spun my two singles and when plying them together, noticed that the colors were matching up perfectly. I could have left it there and had a skein similar to the Navajo plyed one, however, I wondered what would happen if I re-plyed it and for the most part, it happened again. The photo shows my sample cabled yarn on the right--with all the colors mixed up together. The strands on the left show the solid areas of the cabled yarn and the other areas which now look more like a 2 ply candy stripe yarn. I'm guessing it has something to do with how it was dyed? I didn't do anything special to try to keep the colors separate, but learned that a sample skein isn't always a predictor of the finished skein.

Anyway, the ultimate test of these yarns will be in the knitting of them. I intend to knit a hat and have just put off doing it because I have close to another oz left to spin and haven't decided how it should be spun--a softly spun single to preserve the color sequence? another carded neutral to make a coordinating solid spun up as a single or maybe a boucle? Stay tuned for the results of this hat challenge.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

More baby surprises

Last weekend I stopped by my friend Patty's alpaca farm and when we went down to look at the animals were surprised to see a new arrival. This little baby wasn't due until later this week and was born only minutes before we happened upon him. He wasn't even completely dried off yet and we watched as he got up on his legs and took those first wobbly steps. Then Patty scooped him up in her arms to check out baby and lead mom up to a closer pasture.

All the other alpacas wanted to crowd around and meet the new arrival--dubbed Picasso's Renoir, too. Isn't he just the cutest thing!

While I was there I picked up some more fiber from a girl named Celia.

It's hard to tell in this pic but the staple length is 6" and this was from her cria fleece. It washed up into the "whiter than white" sample shown below left in the photo. I'm using my Forsyth mini-combs to process it and I swear it feels almost softer than cashmere.

All alpaca is nice to spin and knit...but somehow it's even better when you know their names.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Welcome Keegan

The best happening of the summer had to be the arrival of little Keegan John. Isn't he sweet? He's the son of my nephew Josh and his wife Erin. Yes, that's right--I'm a great aunt!

Josh is someone I think about every day as he's one of the soldiers stationed in Iraq. Keegan was born in the middle of August during his daddy's two week leave but they'll have time to get to know each other better in Dec when Josh returns for good. This pic of the baby was taken when he was about a month old. In the photo that came with the baby announcement, I thought Keegan looked just like his mom. But in this shot, he reminds me alot of what Josh looked like when he was that age.

Josh was the first baby I ever held. His mom was my oldest sister and one of the most important people in my life. I know she would have loved being a grandma!

So, I knew I needed to knit this special baby a welcome to the world present and had something all designed when time got away from me. Babies only stay little for a short time, so instead of going ahead with the original piece, I knit him a Baby Surprise sweater. It's one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's designs, that astonishingly, I had never knit before. It was fun to do; I can see why it's a favorite among knitters. It's made from some Socka sock yarn accented with Lisa's Sock! yarn in the Valentine colorway. The booties are also an EZ design--very fun and fast and a perfect match to the sweater in a very miterly sort of way. Hope they fit.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lesson learned

Over the last year, I've been feeling like part sponge when it comes to spinning. There seems to be so many little things to learn about.

Take plying. When I first started spinning it would give me fits because I knew what I wanted the finished yarn to look like but didn't realize the relationship between spinning the singles and the plied (or is it plyed?) yarn. Then, when I learned to test my singles to see if they had enough twist to make a nice plied yarn, I was also told that the easy way to tell if the yarn would be balanced was to hold the plied yarn up to the orifice during the plying process and if it hung in an open loop, it would be good to go. Well, right after hearing that I embarked on spinning some lace yarn. It took several months to spin two bobbins, but I was confident that my yarn would be balanced because I used that open loop test. Imagine my surprise after I set the twist to see the skein twisting around itself.

This year I learned what happened. The time the singles sat on the bobbins waiting to be plied, some of the twist went dormant. So, it looked balanced until the twist was set and the Z twist in the singles reawakened causing the finished skein to actually be unbalanced. So now I always keep that little sample control yarn to use as a guide for my plying. And I'm glad because the same thing could have happened this summer, too.

At MS&W, I bought some lovely alpaca/mohair/silk roving from Persimmon Tree and spindled it on my little Golding Tsunami. I wound each cop onto a TP roll, joining them together so I could get a large skein instead of several smaller skeins. Consequently, in the time it took to finish spindling it, the twist went partially dormant again. I plied it on the wheel to match my control yarn and this is what it looked like when it came off the niddy noddy. Looks tremendously overplied, doesn't it; just look at all those pigtails.

I watched carefully when I placed it in the sinkful of water and sure enough, could actually see the twist reawaken. The little strands moved about and totally relaxed. Here's the dried skein. All those little twisty pigtails are gone and it hangs in an open loop. Lesson learned.

BTW, if anybody else bought the same roving from Persimmon Tree last May and is feeling they really don't want it, please let me know. I absolutely love the color and my heart aches to make it into a sweater (but only have enough yardage for a shawl). Yeah, always buy more roving than you think you need. Second lesson learned, too.