Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Loose Ends

It dawned on me as I gathered up these flowers from the garden before the predicted early frost the other night, that there were several loose ends of a fibery nature left from the summer. So this post contains a mishmash of photos taken during that time and will try to bring you up to date.

First off, I did finish the Mystery Stole 3.
Instead of a beautiful swan, mine is more of an ugly duckling. The asymmetrical ends don't bother me so much as I would much rather have the entire wing on the other side of the shawl. Plus, I wish I'd added extra length to make it longer, so it will be ripped out and the yarn will take flight again as an Icarus shawl.

Ah, here's another shot of that Ingeo/cotton skein from the last post.
I certainly didn't want to respin the whole thing right away, but I was curious as to how it would look with Patsy's suggestions implemented. So, I un-plied it, gave more twist to the singles and re-plied. A terrific learning experience! If I'd been thinking, I would have saved a portion of the first one in order to make a side by side comparison. Enough of Ingeo until next year, I think. ;)

After all the accumulated fleeces from the winter and spring were washed, it was time for some processing.
First up was the white Perendale from Treenway. I love this fleece! I used my Forsyth mini-combs and these nice little bundles are waiting to be spun on my big Lendrum Saxony.

One summer day I decided to play with the dyepot.
This is Hope, the extra fine white Corrie from Whitefish Bay Farm after she had a little dunk in it. Processing is on hold until I save enough pennies for a drum carder as I'd like to blend back in a little white, maybe even some silk.

Okay, and there have been 2 more fleece acquisitions.
Velvet, a bottle fed Friesan/Polypay lamb from Debbie Bender. Debbie has a great reputation in the area for fleeces and I picked this small one up from her last week at WI S&W. There are some sunburned tips but it is so very soft, I can't wait to make some mittens with it.

And, from a sheep I know personally...
Dolly, a Dorset/Rambouillet. Dolly lives at an alpaca farm so her fleece isn't highly valued there (in fact it was simply given to me!), but in her younger years she won ribbons in the fine class at fiber events and still is very, very soft. I'm thinking it will make terrific socks! Her fleece hasn't been skirted, so that should be a new and interesting challenge.

In other handspun sock news, I did finish spindling the superwash merino (Blue Hawaii colorway) from Gypsy Girl and it is plyed and ready to be knit up.
I used the Avi spindle pictured for one single and spun the other single on the Joy. The reason behind wheel spinning one of them, was because I used Janelle's recipe for working with handpainted color as shown in the summer issue of Spin-Off (where one single is spun from narrow strips of roving and the other is spun from a wider piece). I didn't think I would enjoy spindling from that wider piece. Because so often I relate being dissatisfied with my spinning, I loudly proclaim; I am very happy with this skein. Can't particularly pinpoint why, it just pleases me very much.

The next spindling project that has risen to the top of the pile, is this Merino/Bamboo dyed by Tracy Bunkers.
It's every bit as pink as it shows on my monitor (hope it shows pink on yours, too) and the colorway is called Flamingo. Love it! I'm using my first spindle, a Mielke Emily and the two paired together is just about as good as it gets.

So, all loose ends should now be tied up with a big bow and we'll be ready to move forward into autumn with a clean slate.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Scrambling up the Wall

Last winter I wrote a post about hitting the wall--the Ingeo wall. Sooner or later, I knew I'd return to the subject because that's just the way I am. No PLA (Polylactic Acid) was going to get the better of me!

All the necessary materials for my second run at Ingeo are pictured above. This time I took the Spinning Guru's advice to blend it with cotton. To reduce the take up on my Scotch tension Ashford Joy (bobbin pictured on the left), I decided to use one of my double drive Ashford Traveller bobbins (shown on the right). The groove for the brake band for both bobbins is at the top of the photo. Since the diameter of the double drive bobbin is smaller, there is less surface space for the brake band to cover and the pull isn't as strong. You would think that it would be possible to simply turn the Joy bobbin around and use the smaller end, but no, the flyer is tapered and the large end of the bobbin is too big to fit on the small end of the flyer.
To blend the fibers and make puni's from which to spin, first the two colors of Ingeo fibers are placed on the cards--Strauch half size cotton cards.
Then, ginned cotton lint is added on top.
Since I was aiming for a textured yarn, I used a couple of carding techniques. First, a couple of strokes across. Then a quick doff. Stroke, stroke and doff again. Then, I began using Patsy's nibble carding method.
Which lined up the fibers along the bottom of the card.
A very smooth dowel is used to roll the ends of the fibers around...
and, up the card.
Finally, a little burnishing at the curve at the top of the teeth.
When the puni is removed from the dowel, one end is drawn in and the other has more stray fibers which can be used to begin spinning.
This is the singles on the bobbin. It really wasn't as bad spinning these fibers together as it is spinning them alone. The cotton gives the Ingeo added strength (maybe by absorbing any of the extra twist the Ingeo doesn't want?) and the longer Ingeo fibers added to the cotton make using a double drafted long draw easier, too.
A close up of the skein. It is definitely under plied but I was nervous about sending it through the wheel again to fix it up. I wasn't sure just where the line between "texture" and sorta crummy spinning lies so I asked for a opinion from Patsy when I saw her at WI S&W yesterday. She very nicely (may I say again, Very Nicely) told me that, indeed, besides being under plied, the singles themselves needed more twist. And, that where it would be a perfectly acceptable yarn with which to knit, it didn't really have enough texture to be called a textured yarn and, of course, had too much to be a smooth one. I so value this review because it gave me some things to work on the next time I venture up this wall.
So, what would I make with this skein? I'm thinking it would make a nice chemo hat, especially for hot weather; maybe with a ribbed pattern to give some elasticity. It's definitely a soft yarn and the Ingeo with it's moisture wicking qualities would be beneficial on hot days. Plus, it's about a sport weight yarn so it wouldn't be too heavy. What would you make with this skein?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Knitting Minutiae

Here's my version of the little garter shawl that was all the rage at Knitting Camp this year. Cheryl Oberle handed out copies of the pattern last year and several knitters had made and were wearing them this July. And, I watched as flying fingers Marge knit hers in two days flat and was able to wear it home. More copies of the pattern were made for some of us first time Oft-timers. I cast on the night I got home, but obviously, mine took awhile to finish.

The yarn is Meg's new alpaca/wool blend in a heathery purple mix color. It is very soft and even though I'm not ready for summer to end just yet, I'm looking forward to wearing it on the first crisp fall day.
The shawl has a very clever way of fastening--a tube of ribbing that allows for one of the shawl ends to slip through.

It's knit from one shawl end (or tail) to the other with some short row shaping around the neck garter edge. The original version was more of a shoulder shawl. It only reached about elbow length and had more of a straight edge across the back as the stitch count didn't change once you got into the body of the shawl. I made mine according to Marge's modifications (with some input from Charlie Hada, I think) and the gentle sloping shape are formed by making additional increases across the back.
The additional increases were made with the new unvented increase that Meg showed us how to do. She said she learned it from Shirley Grade of the Yarn House in Elm Grove, WI--a long standing Milwaukee area knit shop. As with any increase, there are certain instances it will be more useful for than others, but it's just another example of the knitting minutiae that campers partake in. If you've no interest in technique, then read no further.

I'm not sure just who named it, but several campers were calling it the Wisconsin increase, I guess because that's where it was unvented. As an aside, I love that word--unvented.

It's worked similarly to a bar increase. You know the one--Knit into the front, then the back of a stitch.
For the WI increase--Knit into the front of the stitch, then places the tip of the right needle into the back of the stitch (or as to purl, it will turn out the same) but instead of knitting it, just slip the loop off the left needle and onto the right one.
On the next row, you'll need to work that increase part of the stitch (the loop you just slipped over) through the back of the loop. Otherwise, it will look like a big mistake in your knitting and you will be unhappy.

If worked properly, the increase is hidden nicely behind the stitch it is made from as you can see on the swatch on the right. I'm not sure I would always use this increase, but it does eliminate the purl looking blip which occurs with the bar increase used in the swatch on the left. So, in some instances where that specific increase is called for, the WI inc would be a good substitute.

Since the shawl was only increased along one edge, it didn't need a corresponding mirror but this is how I'd work it if I wanted one. It's a little different than what I have written down in my camp notes, but it's a definite possibility that this is what was said at camp and I just wrote it down wrong. :) For the mirror of the WI increase--Place the tip of the right needle into the next stitch as if to knit and then keeping the right leg of that stitch on the right needle, rotate the tip around and insert it into the stitch again and knit it. Of course, do not exaggerate the motion this much or you will have a very distorted stitch.

My notes say to go into the back of the stitch twice and then knit it the second time, but this leaves a twisted stitch in the row below that doesn't make me happy. Of course, a mirror isn't always needed, and if it is, there are other increase options.

And, isn't it always good to have options.