2015 Spun Up

Two weeks into the new year (can I still call this year “new”?), and I’m already behind. I spent the first several days sick, and the next several trying to catch up from having been sick, and I’m still trying to recover my knitting mojo (not to mention finishing up the photographing and logging of my 2015 knits). It’s been a little demoralizing.

But this right here has perked me up:

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That right there represents the most I’ve ever spun in a single year – just shy of seven pounds. This was in large part due to getting an electric spinner (a Hansen miniSpinner) for my birthday in June. The first seven yarns I spun this year happened over a period of five months, on my Ladybug. The next 20 happened over the next seven months, on my miniSpinner.

I am sad to say that my Cherry Matchless has seen no action at all this year, and she is in a high sulk. I need to make some decisions about her this year. The miniSpinner has completely revolutionized my spinning, and I’m just not sure I need two wheels on top of the spinner. I’ve always adored treadling, but the truth is, I’ve done no treading since June. It’s hard to justify keeping my Matchless under the circumstances, but it’s also hard to consider letting go of such a beauty. So … we’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’m in love with spinning these days and am hopeful that I can maybe spin around 10 pounds this year, while honing my technique.

Also, just because I like to see the numbers, here’s what I made:

  • basic 2-ply: 19
  • chain-ply: 4
  • singles: 4
  • already knit up (or in the case of 2 of them, woven): 15

Even after almost seven years of spinning, it still always amazes me that I can make yarn with my own two hands (and a tool of some sort). Such a deep and simple pleasure, and one of the brightest spots of 2015 for me.

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Sunday Spinning

Sundays are so full and busy for me, in a good way, but it means they spin away from me so quickly. Today is spinning by especially fast. But I’m helped by the fact that I started the day by doing all the things that ground me, including some spinning.

  
Finished the first two ounces of Hello Yarn Falkland, “Mignardises” (June 2014 fiber club). I love it and plan to make a little time for more spinning tonight.

I hope your Sunday is beautiful, and that you are able to make a little time for whatever fills you with joy.

A Look Back :: 2014, in Knits and Spins

Yes, I realize it’s a bit ridiculous to do a retrospective in mid-February, but apparently that’s what happens when you are still logging your Christmas knits well into the new year. I always like to take stock of what I’ve accomplished each year with knitting and spinning, so here we go.

2014 Knitting

Less than I’ve knit in some years, but more than I might’ve, given how much was going on for me in 2014. Here’s the tally:

cowls: 2
baby: 4
adult sweaters: 1
kid sweaters: 2
mittens: 1
mitts: 2
socks: 5
hats: 1
toys: 3 sets
boot toppers: 1
blankets: 1
handspun: 7
my own design: 5
for others: 18

I think that last total is a record for me (a self-proclaimed selfish knitter). Out of 23 items knit, 18 of them were for other people. I also clearly majored in accessories in 2014, with almost a record number of socks. Another record for me: nearly a quarter of my knits were ones I designed myself. Nearly a third of my knits were handspun. Notably missing from the round-up: shawls. I almost finished one in the spring but then ran out of yarn during the bind-off and still haven’t gotten that sorted out. I also cast on for two shawls in 2014 that I didn’t finish in the same year (one, cast on in June, is hibernating; another, cast-on in November, was finished in early 2015). In 2014, I also accomplished a long-standing goal of mine, of knitting sweaters for each of my kids in the same season. I didn’t manage to finish until sweater season was almost over last spring, but it has been a true joy to see both boys wearing their sweaters this season.

My most-worn knit of 2014 is my Spy vs. Spy, a handspun infinity cowl that I lovelovelove. My most fun-to-knit knit was my Detroit Tigers Crackerjack, which kept me company all through baseball season. And my favorite knit of 2014 was the one adult sweater I made, my Autumn Reis.

Goals for knitting in 2015 include: more knitting with handspun, a new version of Crackerjack, and at least one more sweater for me (ideally, more than one, as I have several partially-completed ones hibernating that I would love to finish up).

Here’s the spinning round-up for 2014:

2014 spinning

That’s a sad number of spins, isn’t it? I have struggled with my new wheel, and it took some of the joy out of spinning. When I gave myself permission to pull out my old wheel, I got a lot more spinning done (70% of these yarns were made on my Ladybug, in the last 4-5 months of 2014). Even though I would’ve loved more production, I am very happy with the yarns I did make (70% of which are Hello Yarn). I’ve already knit up half of these yarns, and as I noted above, one of my hopes in 2015 is to do even more with my handspun.

A new thing that will include this year: weaving. I got a new loom for Christmas (a Schacht 20″ Flip) and I have had so much fun with it so far. I’m envisioning lots of handspun handwoven goodies.

Also, apparently I’m going to be knitting lots more handspun socks this year, because I’ve discovered I can’t quite get enough of them.

So! That’s a look back at 2014 and a look ahead at (what’s left of) 2015. Thanks for indulging me! For my next trick, I’m actually going to show you something I made this year!

 

 

Hey, I made more yarn

No matter how much I do it, it always feels magical to me. Fiber+twist=yarn. It’s a straightforward equation with a thousand variations yielding endless fascination, satisfaction, and delight. Not a bad way to start a day. Or end one, for that matter.

I’ve still been spinning like crazy, but my production has slowed down because I went from doing some fat, fast, bulky yarns to spinning thin. So I’ve had a single fiber on the wheel for the past three weeks or so. But that’s okay, because the fiber was a dream.

Hello Yarn Polwarth/Silk in "Slumber," September 2014 Fiber Club

Hello Yarn Polwarth/Silk in “Slumber,” September 2014 Fiber Club

Soft and silky, with deep luscious colors, this has been nothing but happiness to spin.

halfway-ish done

halfway-ish done

I continue to spin on my Ladybug for maximum joy and ease. I spun this in scotch tension (my standard) using the fast whorl at a 10.5:1 ratio. I was trying to do a pretty explicit contrast to the bulky yarns I made earlier this fall. And I think I managed to do that:

"Slumber" on Polwarth/Silk

“Slumber” on Polwarth/Silk

I ended up with 768 yards (out of 4 ounces), light fingering towards laceweight. YES! Sadly, the pictures don’t remotely do the glowing colors of this yarn justice. I am dealing with technical difficulties on every device I use, so I haven’t managed actual camera shots of this yarn yet. These iPhone pictures are a poor representation, but they do give an idea.

silky and soft

silky and soft

Sometimes I spin a yarn with a particular project in mind. Other times, I spin more on impulse, and let the yarn tell me later what it wants to be. This spin was the latter. I spun it as thin singles because that’s what felt right for this fiber – I just kept imagining it that way. Only when I pulled it off the wheel did I realize what I wanted to make with it.

slinky

slinky

I’m very excited about knitting with this yarn, which is kind of a bummer, since I’m basically never going to be finished with the sweater I have on the needles. But I guess that’s okay, because the cats seem to have claimed this yarn as their own.

the guarding of the wool

the guarding of the wool

At last, I made yarn

As I mentioned earlier this week, I basically didn’t spin at all this summer. I was gone about as much as I was home, and when I was home, I was either preparing for my next trip or recovering from my previous one, and I just couldn’t find the momentum to spin.

But I got back on the wheel in the latter part of August, and I banged out a fun thick-and-thin just to get back in the groove (pics soon). Then I moved on to spinning up the prize for my giveaway from June.

This is deep stash, FLUFF MCN (Merino Cashmere Nylon) in “Murky.” I chose it as the giveaway because it reminds me of the color of the ocean in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, part of the Emerald Coast.

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It was a joy to spin.

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302 yards 2-ply light worsted

I loved working with this fiber – so smooth and silky, and the colors are so amazing. It definitely put me in a beachy frame of mine, and I think it will knit up beautifully. Susan, I hope you love it!

I’ve already got my next fiber on the wheel:

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More FLUFF! More beachy colors! More total YUM! Welcome back, spinning. I’ve missed you!

Some spinning > no spinning

My spinning goal for the year has been 14 pounds. So far this year, I have spun … 12 ounces. Oh well, some spinning is better than no spinning, right?

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This is 4 ounces Hello Yarn Limited Edition American Wool Blend in “Ships and Whales and Icebergs,” (March 2013 Fiber Club) spun as a standard 2-ply, yielding 385 yards DKish- weight.

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I split the fiber once vertically down the middle, spun the first half straight as it came onto one bobbin, and then tore the second half into smaller chunks horizontally (four of them, I think), and spun from different ends of those smaller chunks all onto a second bobbin, then plied the two bobbins together. The effect was some barber-poling and some color-matching.

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Love that shot of blue!

I have no particular intentions for this yarn. I just wanted to spin it up. So I did.

Crackerjack :: on the fence

So from the beginning – and by “beginning” I mean since, like August or September or whenever it was I first had this idea – I’ve been planning to use my beloved Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool in worsted for my Crackerjack. And now all of a sudden, on the verge of casting on, I find myself second-guessing myself, because of the colors. As I’ve mentioned, the navy I ordered last fall actually looked more like black. So I had finally settled on using what is labelled as Royal Blue but tends towards navy, though it’s not a true navy.

Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd Worsted

Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd Worsted

It looks more royal in this picture than it is in real life.

When I showed the yarn to My Old Man, he told me that the blue was fine but that the white was off!! It really is more of a cream.

Then I pulled out some Brown Sheep Naturespun sportweight, left over from my child’s Chevron Love Mittens. When I compared it to the Stonehedge, the colors looked perfect:

Stonehedge on left, Brown Sheep on right

Stonehedge on left, Brown Sheep on right

The Brown Sheep colors look so crisp together – they seem truer to the actual Tigers colors, don’t they? Of course I would need to order more – in orange and grey (I think “Orange You Glad” and “Grey Heather”) but also more of the navy and white, since I don’t even have full skeins of that. These skeins are much smaller than the Stonehedge, so I think I’ll need two skeins of each color to make sure I have enough. A sportweight will also give me a different gauge, so I’m going to swatch this weekend and change all my calculations.

Even though I think I’ll be ordering all new yarn for this, I should still be okay for Opening Day (48 hours away – woohoo!) since the Tigers start at home, and navy and white are my home game colors.

You guys! It’s almost time to cast on!

 

 

Knock, knock! Who’s there? MORE YARN!

I’m being pretty particular these days, trying very hard not to add to my stockpiles of yarn unless absolutely necessary. Right now “necessary” mostly means I need it in order to make a gift. But every now and then, after lots and lots of thought and planning, I will spring for something very special for a particular project.

For the scheduled January update of The Plucky Knitter, I gave a few days of thought, figured out what I wanted and for what purposes, and when the update went live, I snagged it. It arrived last week, and it’s even more stunning than I’d imagined.

Plucky Feet, in "Technicolor Teal" and "Wintry Mix"

Plucky Feet, in “Technicolor Teal” and “Wintry Mix”

My iPhone can’t remotely capture the luminescence of this yarn. The teal is the most stunning possible shade, with gorgeous depth and shine. The pale grey is absolute perfection.

20140319-220838.jpgThe yarn is slated for a Kyllene. It will be a long while before I can get started on it, but I’ve got the perfect yarn for when I do.

Spinning a little sunshine into my wintry world

Let’s call today “Fiber Friday” instead of “Fashion Friday,” shall we? Because my fashion today is a smart wool base layer, my favorite hoodie (“Upper Peninsula, Michigan, est. 1837”), jeans, and shearling slippers (a favorite Rhinebeck purchase). With the -20 degree wind chill we have going on today, warmth is my only measure of fashion.

I am not complaining about the weather. I really love that we are having a true winter. It seems like the optimum conditions for my hobbies, you know? Knitting, spinning, reading, drinking hot stuff out of favorite mugs – I can do all those things in the summer, too, and I do. But I feel like winter gives me the psychological boost of feeling like these are things I actually should be doing, rather than just things I want to be doing. I know this is silly, but whatever. I like winter!

It also gives me extra cheer at this time of year to spin up something especially bright and happy. And so here is the first yarn off the wheel this year:

Hello Yarn Superwash BFL, "Mochi"

Hello Yarn Superwash BFL, “Mochi”

I started this yarn in December, when I was working on spinning 10 minutes a day, but I was soon foiled in my plans when I lost the end of the yarn and could not find it for the life of me. Seriously, I tried several times over several days and then finally gave up. After the new year, I took a deep breath, and tried again, using my orifice hook to pick up each strand on the bobbin until I finally found the end. After that, it wasn’t long before I was done.

Those colors!

Those colors!

It’s 205yds light worsted chain-ply (4 oz.). It’s actually two skeins, and they are almost exactly the same length, which is a minor miracle – 101 yards in one and 104 yards for the other. These are slated for mittens for me, to go with my new chocolate brown down coat. But it will be awhile before I can cast on, due to many other projects on deck.

For now, I am keeping this in a very visible place in my study, so I can see it and pet it whenever I need a little boost. I have so much love for this one, and can’t wait to knit it up!