Knitting And Spinning April-May 2013

It took me two months, but I finally finished the test knit for n e o n, an acquaintance’s toddler sweater. This is knit from a wool/nylon yarn I found in my stash that my mother had passed along to me, originally a partly-knit pullover, and dyed by me with purple acid dyes. I learned how to do wrap and turn short row shaping (both the regular way and the garter stitch way for wrap and turns when the regular one didn’t work for me), and a three-needle bind off. Things I have learned: I think I am very good at weaving in ends. I can’t find most of them. But seaming garter stitch is not as fun as it appears to be in photos. Also, when you have used a contrast yarn for the cast on and then later sew the two pieces together, you need to somehow carry the contrast yarn across the seam so that it looks like one piece after joining. I did that by weaving in the front ends across to the back, and vice versa.

I love the contrast bind off on the shoulders, the picked-up cuffs with the contrast bind off, and the buttons on the sleeves. I did something weird on the right side of the placket; only I can mess up garter stitch. I am calling it rustic and embracing it. Everyone’s going to be looking at the sleeves and the little girl wearing it, anyway, right?

Owlet has bedhead in these pictures because we did the photos right after her nap. She was surprisingly cooperative. And then she got upset when I took the sweater off, and whinged until I put it back on her. Best baby ever!

I spun the lovely blue-green-purple gradient braid of BFL I dyed for my own fibre club in March (I posted a picture of the dyed fibre here). I ended up with something like 350-370 yards of lovely DK weight yarn, spun worsted and chain-plied. Ceri now owns it, and I hope she pets it often, because it is so deliciously silky. Look at that BFL lustre! You’d think there was silk in it.

In April, I dyed 3.5 oz of BFL/silk blend top. I experimented with braiding the damp top and injecting purple, green, and chestnut dye in random spots with a syringe, because when it spun up I wanted different subtle streaks of colour and the natural colour of the fibre too. Well, it’s working.

I’ll ply this with a plain undyed single of BFL/silk to make the colours even more subtle, which means I need more BFL/silk top. I shall add it to my list of things to buy from the local spinning/weaving studio over the summer! Ultimately, the yarn is destined for a triangular lace shawlette that I’ll tuck into the neck of my spring/fall jacket.

In May, I dyed some fibre for a swap package destined for another spinner. I worked with two fibres I’d never dyed before, a mixed BFL top (also called humbug BFL, because it’s streaked natural and brown like a humbug candy), and superwash Merino/bamboo, which was deliciously silky.

The mixed BFL I dyed in three shades of green, a mossy green I blended, a dark emerald, and a half-strength emerald solution. I wasn’t sure about it when it came out. It seemed awfully dark, and the variegation in the mixed BFL was kind of lost. I think the colours I used were too saturated for it.

So I dyed a second braid of mixed BFL, mostly with the moss green I mixed, and added a contrast highlight of russet red:

This time I got the saturation right so I could see the natural variegation of the base fibre more clearly, but I realized that while it looked great in the braid, spinning red with green gives you, well, brown. So I ended up sending my swap partner the original green braid, as she loves green, and I called that colourway Malachite. I called the second version Apple Orchard and it stands as my May entry in the My Own Fibre Club series. (Which means I get to spin it at some point and find out if the red and green really do merge into a muddy brown, or if I can spin it intentionally so that the red bits stay red. We shall find out!)

The second braid I dyed for my partner was a very daring (for me, anyway) assembly of bright colours: sky blue, emerald, golden ochre, and chestnut. I love how it turned out so much that I will now spam you with lots of pictures of the process.

I loved how saturated the colours were when the fibre was wet.

And when it dried, you could see the streaks of white bamboo against the dyed Merino. (Acid dyes don’t dye bamboo; you need another kind of dye for that.) It’s a wonderful effect.

I’m going to do another version of this one for myself. I called the colourway Sunflowers Under Blue Skies. This was hard to photograph, because the white, shiny bamboo kept picking up the lights and making the braid look even lighter than it was.

I’ve been getting to know the little secondhand Baynes wheel I scored at a fabulous price. It’s got very sensitive tension adjustments, and I find I either feel like I’m gripping the fibre so it doesn’t run away into the orifice or there’s no takeup at all. It spins incredibly smoothly, though. I’ve been using the regular flyer, but the braid of BFL I’ve been working through should probably have been spun on the faster flyer; I’d have had fewer problems with the single drifting apart. That means my tension and the wind-on aren’t quite right. I have two bobbins with 2 oz on each; now I get to ply them together. The hooks are driving me crazy, too, since even when I swing them I can’t fill the bobbin evenly. I’ve ordered a pair of the pinch-and-slide yarn guide hooks that the newer flyers come equipped with from the US rep, and I’ll take the hooks off both the regular and faster flyer and use the sliding one instead. That way I can control the packing of the bobbin more efficiently.

Here’s a photo of it, since I realize I didn’t post one before. I love that I can carry it around, and spin in the playroom while Owlet watches PBS or plays with the trains. I’m looking forward to spinning outside this summer, too. The Tour de Fleece is coming up at the end of June!

4 thoughts on “Knitting And Spinning April-May 2013

  1. Ceri

    It all looks so fantastic!

    And yes, yes I do pat the yarn very often. It is sitting on my shelf and I am contemplating its destiny. :D


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