I’m never not amazed …

…by the magic of spinning.

I started with this:
fiber :: Hello Yarn Polwarth
Hello Yarn Polwarth, “Troll” (December 2012 Fiber Club), 4 oz.

I’d originally been envisioning spinning it as a chain-ply, but never got around to it. Then at Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law asked if I might make her a hat like mine:
knitted :: Handspun Norie
That’s a Norie Hat, without the lace bits, from my handspun Hello Yarn Falkland (in “Broken Things”). This hat has been in heavy rotation for me this fall, and my MIL was taken with it. I told her I could make her one but the colors would be different because I didn’t have enough of that yarn left to make another hat. She was fine with that, so I went stash-diving to see what fiber might be a nice choice for a hat for her, and I came up with the Polwarth in “Troll.”

Hello Yarn Polwarth, "Troll"

Hello Yarn Polwarth, “Troll”

I am super-pleased with how it turned out.

the flip-side

the flip-side

I did a basic two-ply, mostly matching up the colors, with some occasional barber-poling for transitions. I ended up with 312 yes DK weight 2-ply.

floofy

floofy

I enjoy spinning the toothier wools (think Shetland, Falkland, Corriedale) and the longwools (think Wensleydale, Romney, Masham) a bit more than I like spinning the fine wools (think Merino, Polwarth, Rambouillet), but it’s certainly hard to beat Polwarth for softness.

yummy yarn

floofy flipside

And the colors! Adrian worked her usual magic here, and I couldn’t be happier with how these colors played together.

I’m still dedicated to spinning at least ten minutes a day, and it’s remarkable how that simple discipline can affect not only my output (i.e., yarn production) but also my mindset and sense of well-being. I am never not amazed that I can actually create yarn – and I’m never not grateful for the effect spinning has on me, the way it seems to connect my head, heart, and body. It’s a remarkable craft.

Spinning ten minutes a day keeps the stress away

Isn’t that how the saying goes? Or something like that.

After spinning hardly at all this fall, I set a goal last week of spinning at least ten minutes a day. So far, I’d say it’s working out pretty well.

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That’s Hello Yarn Falkland, “Spirograph,” the August 2013 Fiber Club fiber. I spun it up fast and fat using my slow whorl, and ended up with 352 yards of thick-and-thin singles (ranging from DK to bulky). I am very, very pleased with this yarn (shown here in shots from my phone, which didn’t fully capture the squishy glory of it).

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For me, the fastest way to break a spinning hiatus is by making quick and fluffy singles.

Now I’m working on a standard two-ply. It’s going well, only here’s the thing. Ten minutes a day is really hard. Because once I’ve spun for ten minutes, I honestly just want to keep going and going….

Spinning along

Kirsten and I decided to set ourselves a goal of spinning (at least) 10 minutes a day this month. So last night, I got to it. I actually spun for close to half an hour (it’s so hard to stop!) and then another ten minutes this morning, and BAM!

on the wheel

on the wheel


Just about finished the 4 ounces of Falkland (Hello Yarn, “Spirograph”) I’d been working on. (The fiber I posted about yesterday.)

I’m still learning my wheel, which I just got in June. This is the first time I’ve spun with the slow whorl on it, and I had a few issues with take-up (sometimes the double-drive system confounds me, even though I currently have it set up for single drive – does that make sense? I mean, there are still two adjustments that can be made – the tension wheel and the brake band – as opposed to only the one adjustment I always made with my Ladybug). Anyway. I got all these singles packed on this bobbin and I was certain I could finish up the fiber but it just would not wind on anymore – not for lack of space on the bobbin, but for lack of any take-up at all. I’m probably doing something wrong.

a wee bit left to spin

a wee bit left to spin


Anyway, I have this teeny bit of fiber to spin up on a fresh bobbin, then I’ll wash/finish this yarn and move on to the next spin. It’s always so much fun to decide what will go on the wheel next!

Of course, with all this spinning, I made no progress on my current design-in-progress. Whoops!

a thing I did for a few minutes, several days ago (spoiler :: it’s spinning)

 

look at that red!!

look at that red!!

I was so excited to get this on the wheel and it was spinning up so quickly, and then I got interrupted by something, and another something, and another something, and I never got back to spin the second half of it. It’s killing me how little spinning I’ve done this fall, and this gorgeosity sits on the wheel just taunting me. But I am trying to work on a pair of knitting designs that are taking priority right now, as well as a list of must-knits a mile long (’tis the season, yes?).

Hello Yarn August 2013 Fiber Club, "Spirograph" on Falkland

Hello Yarn August 2013 Fiber Club, “Spirograph” on Falkland

The fiber is Hello Yarn August 2013 Fiber Club – “Spirograph” on Falkland (Falkland! One of my faves!). It is spinning up so fat and floofy. I love it so much.

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What I need to do is just take spinning on as a daily discipline the way I have blogging, and just do it even a little bit a day. Ten minutes really shouldn’t be too much to muster, even with holiday knitting and design deadlines. Doesn’t that sound manageable? Of course, I don’t usually tend to do things the manageable way, so we’ll see how this works out.

making yarn, while waiting for yarn

Last night I got to this point in the Smitten-making:
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That’s 8 red mittens, 8 white mittens, and 1.9 green mittens. 1.9, y’all. Argh. I ran out with only three rounds left to go. Over the last several days, I’ve looked everywhere for Patons Merino in Cloverleaf, which I think is what I had been using for the green mittens, and I can’t find it (maybe it’s been discontinued?). I’ve ordered some Cascade 220 in Primavera in hopes that it will match up pretty well. It should get here tomorrow, so we’ll see.

So while I’m waiting for the yarn to arrive, I decided to do a little spinning – something I think I haven’t done since early October. I knew I had been missing spinning, but WOW, spinning again made me realize how much I had missed it.

I got up early, as I usually do, and first I did a little non-Smitten-knitting, and then I got on the wheel and it was just aaaaaahhhhhh, so good. Spinning is just such a great way to start the day. I mean, so is knitting, no doubt. But somehow with spinning, I feel like it’s this great ramp-up for my mind as I get ready for the day. Something about treadling just makes my mind start humming in a way that is both meditative and energized. Does that make sense? I don’t know, it does to me.

Anyway, before long, I was done plying the yarn that had been sitting on my wheel all these weeks, and into the bath she went.

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I love finishing yarn (i.e., soaking it, squeezing it, snapping it, thwacking it, hanging it to dry, and then coming by every couple of hours to admire it).

 
This is pre-bath:
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2.3 oz Hello Yarn Panda in “Villain,” 154 yards chain-plied light worsted, to finish up a project I’ve been working on. I love this fiber, I’m happy with the yarn, and I’m excited to finally finish up this project!

yarns I have loved :: Sundara Aran Silky Merino (plus a destash and a giveaway)

updated to add: the yarn and the sweater are both spoken for, thanks!

 

I think we all know that Sundara dyes gorgeous yarn. Her yarn was the first independently-dyed yarn I ever fell in love with. A pair of my favorite handknit socks are made in her sock yarn:

knitted :: Embossed Leaves
“Embossed Leaves” in “Midnight Meadows.” Love that rich, dark, layered green.

The crazy thing is that I have stashed more of her yarn than I have knit with. And I’ve decided it’s time to part with one little bit of it. It’s very hard to uncurl my death grip from some of the beautiful yarn in my stash, but I’m trying (trying!!) to be a little sensible about how much time there is in a day versus how much yarn and fiber there is in my house. Also, I’m still trying to repay my rainy day fund for the spinning wheel splurge I made earlier this year.

So without further ado, I’d like to destash this gorgeosity:

Sundara Aran Silky Merino, "Charcoal Over Lagoon"

Sundara Aran Silky Merino, “Charcoal Over Lagoon”

Oh, my heart catches a bit looking at that glowing blue. How can I let such beautiful yarn go? It helps to know that someone else might actually make something with it. I bought this five years ago. My kids were still in preschool when I bought this yarn:

Little Buddha, 4 years old

Little Buddha, 4 years old

I originally bought the yarn to make a Shetland Triangle, but the yarn really could become almost anything. It would be more than enough to make this Textured Shawl, for instance:
knitted: Textured Shawl
(I made this shawl with 300 yards of a similar yarn)

I’m selling two skeins (400 yards) – together only – for $60 (PayPal only), including shipping within the U.S. If you’re interested, leave a comment or message me, and it’ll be yours. I can ship it only Friday. The yarn is in a smoke-free, pet-friendly home, and has been stored in plastic in a fiber drawer.

Also! I’m giving away some Sundara Aran Silky Merino, in already knit form. I made this Liesl with two skeins of ASM in “Tulip” four years ago:
for Rav: Liesl

I liked the sweater well enough but I’ve never gotten much wear out of it. I guess I liked it but didn’t love it. (The sweater itself is cute, so maybe it was the color I wasn’t crazy about, I don’t know). Also, I made a mistake in one of the sleeves (the lace pattern is off) – I didn’t notice it until I’d worn it a time or two, and then after that I couldn’t *not* notice it.

Anyway! I’d love for someone else to have this sweater – either to wear or to unknit and have about 400 yards of ASM to make something else. I’m giving it away (*without* the copper clasp) – if you’d like it and if you’ll cover shipping (let’s say $5, PayPal), I’ll send it your way. Again, let me know either in the comments or via direct message, and we’ll work it out.

YIP.7.31 - Liesl

I’m trying to let go of things that I don’t really use, so if you would use this sweater (either in sweater form or in yarn form), I would love for you to have it!

I still have other Sundara Aran Silky Merino in my stash that’s roughly five years old, and I’m debating whether to knit it or let it go. For now, though, I’m doing well to offer up these two skeins and this sweater.

 

updated to add: the yarn and the sweater are both spoken for, thanks!

yarns I have loved :: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Worsted (including a wee destash)

(edited to add :: yarn has been claimed)

My lovely local yarn shop closed earlier this year, which is sad for many reasons, but one of the things I miss most about it is shopping there for Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool yarn. It was at this shop that I first discovered this Michigan-made yarn, and it is a treasure – a soft, strong 3-ply merino that comes in a beautiful assortment of colors, in skeins of 250 yards. I had never heard of it when I discovered it at my local yarn shop a few years ago, and at the time it was selling for a little less than $10/skein. The first thing I ever knit with it was this mitten:
365.318 - I wasn't supposed to need mittens in April
(yeah, that’s right, I said mitten, not mittens because I never did get around to making its match.)

I love this yarn so much. In addition to being soft and strong, it’s got great stitch definition; cables really pop in it.
designed :: Shameless Cowl
My entire Shameless collection is designed in this yarn.

I’ve been coming up with a fun conceptual knitting project that required some yarn I didn’t I already have. I ordered an assortment.
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Mmm, love this classic White.

The problem is, since I can’t buy it locally anymore, I have to pick colors based on how they look on the computer screen. That usually works out fine for me, but this time I made an error. I wanted a deep blue, so I ordered Navy.
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But it is a very deep, dark blue, almost a black-blue – darker than it looks in this picture. (little known fact about me: when I take those color-blindness tests, I test almost color blind for discerning the difference between dark blue and black). I thought I was going to be able to make this work for my project, but alas, I am not. With the other colors in the project, it is reading as black instead of dark blue.

So I’m offering it up to you, dear reader. This yarn now retails for $13. I paid that, plus shipping. I’m looking to destash this for $10 total, with shipping included. If you haven’t tried this yarn yet, now’s your chance! It would look great as a man’s cabled hat, or as a nice soft pair of mittens. At 250 yards in a skein, it’s actually enough for a hat and mitt set, depending on the patterns.

If you’re interested, leave me a comment or message me. I would love for this beautiful, squishy yarn to find a good home. (edited to add :: yarn has been claimed)

Every now and then things turn out just the way you want (dyeing :: Lorna’s Laces, from Blackberry to Plum)

It’s rare that I’m totally satisfied with how one of my projects turns out – my vision usually outruns my abilities. I fully expected that to be the case this time, too. Especially since I’d never tried dyeing before.

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Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, “Blackberry”

But I was determined to give it a go, because this just wasn’t the contrast I was looking for:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport with my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios BFL in Cut & Paste Socks

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport with my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios BFL in Cut & Paste Socks

I did some testing to see which dye I wanted to use to overdye. I had initially assumed I would go with the “Plum Dandy,” but I am so glad I did a test first, because it turned out that the Deep Maroon actually achieved the color I was looking for.

Having figured out which dye to use, I got to work. Bye-bye beautiful purple “Blackberry”:

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(I do love the original color, it just wasn’t what I wanted for this project)

Even though I had done some sampling, I still wasn’t prepared for how completely perfect the yarn was going to turn out for me.

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I mean, seriously. This is exactly what I wanted.

A deep, semi-solid, plummy purple. It practically glows.

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It provides a perfect contrast for my handspun.

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(the dark spots were actually already in the yarn before I overdyed)

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There are only two problems now.
1 – It seems a shame to use such a pretty yarn for contrast cuffs, heels, and toes for socks – it’s going to be covered up most of the time!
2 – I really do feel like I have possibly fallen down the rabbit hole of a new hobby….

 

for comparison: original on left overdye on right

for comparison:
original on left
overdye on right

Dyeing shenanigans (or, how to play a cruel trick on an innocent child)

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When the boys came home from school yesterday, Little Buddha thought the mixing bowl of purple goodness on the counter was cake icing. Even after he realized it was yarn, he still thought it looked good enough to eat – I think most yarn-lovers know that feeling, am I right? Boy, was he surprised at the vinegar taste!

(It was just soaking in vinegar and water. And I did tell him it was yarn. I truly didn’t expect him to actually taste it. But you didn’t expect me not to photo document the moment, did you?)

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Plum Dandy, Teddy Bear Brown, Deep Maroon. I’m going with the maroon.

Feeling sort of Breaking Bad over here

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So this is happening right now. I created three wee skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport for sampling, mixed my three dyes, and am now steaming the yarn. I only used a little dye mix for each color, but it still all looks really dark:

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(Plum Dandy, Teddy Bear Brown, Deep Maroon)

I poured a tiny amount onto each of my vinegar-soaked mini-skeins and put them into small jars for steaming. They’re on a wire rack inside a large canning pot that I’ve dedicated just for dyeing. As per the research I’ve done, all the equipment I’m using is only for dyeing, and I’m wearing gloves and a mask. It’s actually flipping me out a little bit to be working with chemicals, but it’s a chance to unleash for inner Jesse Pinkman, so there’s that.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

(Fashion Friday will be back next week – hey, maybe even on Monday, who knows)