Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's Spring!!

It might not technically be spring on the calendar yet, but an event occurred today that shows it has definitely arrived in Northeast Wisconsin. Yes...the robins have arrived!! I spotted one this morning and even though there still could be some cold temps and maybe even a little snow, it shows that winter's back has definitely been broken and the weather will steadily be improving.

To go along with that, I have photos of a spring shawl I knit last week. It's the Swallowtail designed by Evelyn Clark (pattern from the Fall 2006 IK).

I used one hank of Handmaiden SeaSilk (70% Silk, 30% Seacell) and because it was nearly the exact yardage required by the pattern and since I didn't want to run out of yarn on the last row, I used the size 4 needles called for in the directions. In fact, when I weighed what was left after reaching the last row, I discovered that it was about 1/4 of the skein or 100 yds, which was just too much to waste with such pricey yarn. So I ripped out the entire shawl and reknit it on size 6 needles. This gave me a larger more wearable sized shawl than the small size when made on size 4's. I also like the drapey quality in the finished fabric when done on the larger needles as compared to the smaller ones.
The colorway is called Capri and even though it is variegated between blues and lavender, the patterning still shows up nicely. The nupps weren't bad! I guess after knitting the 7 st version in Galina's Lily of the Valley shawl last year, this 5 st version seemed much easier. Especially because it was done in St st instead of garter.

I've heard some reports that this yarn has an unpleasant odor but I didn't have any problems at all. Even while wet blocking it, I was surprised by the lack of any smell of silk. It is definitely a luxurious yarn that I'd love to use again. In fact, the shop had another colorway that I keep thinking would make a wonderful Flower Basket shawl; another springlike Evelyn Clark pattern that I've never knit. Could I be the last laceknitter on earth that hasn't made one--sometimes it feels that way.

Anyway, if spring hasn't sprung in your neck of the woods, I hope it's just around the corner!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Adventures in Spinning Cotton

Last time I told you about the flax spinning in my Folk School class. This post is about spinning that itty bitty short little fiber--cotton.

Patsy started us off easy with unginned cotton and spinning it straight off the seed. Whereas I'd never tried spinning flax before the class, I had attempted cotton before--not too successfully.

Spinning off the seed was really fun! Plus, once you have a bare seed you can plant it (so watch for my upcoming adventures in growing cotton in WI--haha!:)

Then, we moved on to using ginned cotton lint--carding it and making puni's. For a long time now, I've known I'm a bit carding challenged and in need of remedial lessons. So, I spent one entire night carding everything in sight. You can see the evolution in this photo.
A puni improvement, I'd say! I liked spinning from puni's, too. So far, so good.

The next day we tried spinning on the charkha. There were several different types in the room--from my little Bosworth book charkha to an Indian book model, Patsy brought 2 attache size charkhas, Nat had an Alden Amos and Pat an Ashford upright charkha and Elizabeth had her great wheel. This is Patsy demonstrating on one of the attache models. She makes it look really easy. My Bosworth charkha arrived only about 10 days before the class but I'd been able to practice a little bit on it before traveling to NC. After Patsy watched me spin, she made a couple of suggestions and it all clicked. I made friends with my charkha! :)

And, here are the before and after skeins to prove it. On the bottom is what I spun before the class and the top skein is what I spun while there. Yeah!

There were some not so great cotton spinning experiences, too. Mostly those in the sliver form. I plan to try those again after I have a little more time under my belt getting the feel for the short little fibers.

We also did a little bit of dyeing in this workshop. This is some of the unginned cotton after it dried. And, then carded up. I seem to have lost the skein I spun from it, though. :(Pat and Nat had taken a cotton spinning class with another teacher (whose name I can't remember) and this was the drafting method they learned--I thought it was interesting so snapped a photo so I would remember it. Hope you find it interesting, too.Pat brought this fun little mat made out of handspun cotton woven on a 4" Weavette loom.
Nat also had a really pretty scarf made on the Weavette. Unfortunately, the photo I took of it didn't turn out, but it was very cleverly put together so that 2 squares made from cashmere sat at the back of the neck for ultimate comfort.

While I was away from home, pictures of the Moosie whorls were delivered and I ended up with one day before the deadline to choose one. I figured that the ones I liked best would already have been spoken for, but this seemed like a really pretty herd so I sent in my choices and wonder of wonders--got my #1 pick!
Here it is! Isn't it a beauty! That one little spot is the only place where it isn't totally clear which I love because I didn't want a totally gnarly looking whorl but didn't want it to look too solid so that people would think it was plastic, either. The shaft is Cochin Rosewood--I let Sheila choose whatever she thought would look best. The weight is 1.2 oz and after much experimentation I discovered it likes to spin alpaca.

Thanks for bearing with me through all the Folk School workshop photos. Can't believe it all happened only a month ago. Next week maybe I'll have some current knitting and spinning pics.