Archive for October, 2008

Beverly Hills Spinning

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I ordered three batts from Squambo, not because I actually needed them, but because it's so important to support your local fiber arts community. (Can you feel my halo glowing?) Because we live in the same area, she very kindly agreed to meet me at Sophie's on Wednesday night deliver the goods in person. I had the best intentions of ignoring them for a little while in order to finish spinning up my sad, neglected Fleece Artist BFL, but I just needed to spin up a little bit to see what this whole novelty yarn thing was about. And then all of a sudden I had a whole bobbin full of the stuff, and I needed to know what it would look like plied with a strand of thread. And then, apparently, I needed to rush over to the niddy noddy, skein it up, and set the twist. Art yarn- this is urgent stuff people!

A month ago I would have laughed out loud if you told me that I would be spinning up anything remotely resembling a novelty yarn, but it was so much fun that I'm thinking about buying the Babe Bulky Spinner conversion kit so I can spin some really crazy yarns. Better see if I can actually make anything with this stuff first!

The batt I spun up is called 90210. I was a bit young for that show the first time it was on, but my sister and I had Brenda and Kelly dolls. You can see what it looked like in the batt here. I was too excited to start spinning it to stop and take a picture!

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Another One Bites the Dust

My Death Hat (Rav link) was finally finished in the wee hours of the morning. Phew!

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I'm just glad it's over. I know my hat is on the way, but it's nice to know that I'll get off one lousy kill before it gets here. Maybe I'm not a total failure as a knitting assassin after all! I didn't like the look of the hat much at all while I was knitting it, but now that it's finished, I'm warming up to it. I tested it out this morning before going to the post office and I can verify that it is both soft and warm. Molly and Apple Green is such a great color combo, but I realize it might not be everyone's cup of tea. I hope my target likes it!

Now it's back to the Handspun Cowl. Mmmmm, handspun. Come to Mama! My goal is to finish it in the next couple days, so that I can spend the entire month of November on sweaters. But the great thing about knitting a cowl is that I can pretty much bind it off whenever I want and it's totally still a cowl! S-w-e-e-t!

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I used some scrap yarn to do a round of single crochet around the edge of the cowl, but I keep going back and forth about whether I like it or not. It does add some much needed color to the piece, but also it's not really wide enough to keep the stockinette from rolling, and therefore will always be facing the wrong side. Can I get some thoughts in the comments?

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Random Sunday Night (Again!)

1. I am almost up to the decreases on my Fibonacci Frequency hat (Rav link), aka the Hat Attack weapon. So help me, I don't care if I ever see 3×2 ribbing again as long as I live. Especially not if it is going to shift on my everything few rows. Yeesh!

2. I love, love, LOVE knitting with my handspun. I really thought that all the times I've heard spinners talk about how great working with their own yarn is, I figured it was just another evil ploy to suck me into another craft. Which, it may be, but seriously. Knitting with handspun rocks!

3. I deliberated over cowl patterns on Ravelry for hours on Saturday night, trying to find the perfect one for my first handspun. This is one of the big downsides of Ravelry for me personally. I can easily get stymied in the quest for the "perfect" pattern, especially if it's a really special, totally non-repeatable yarn. So in the end, I just figured out what I wanted on my own, and so far I'm happy with the results. So far I've managed to combine knitting and crochet with handspun and millspun yarns! Ooooh! Pictures soon!

4. I think the cowl might be the next "big thing" in knitting. Think the poncho craze, only better because cowls do not make me look like an overstuffed sofa.

5. To help me get through the Fibonacci Frequency, every few rows I let myself do a row or two on my cowl. I realize that if I would just work on the damn hat, I would be finished with it and able to move on with my life, but I really need that extra motivation.

6. Also, I would probably be done with both projects sooner if I could resist the temptation of slipping the cowl onto some waste yarn so I can pull it on over my head for a few minutes.

7. I ended up frogging my Autumn Mitts. I tried twice, but couldn't quite get the right gauge to get a mitt that actually fit my hand. No worries- I'm sure the yarn will find a happy home elsewhere.

8. According to my spreadsheet, since I frogged the mitts, after my Fibonacci Frequency is (finally!) done, I can move onto two tragically languishing projects- the February Baby Sweater and my Wisteria. (FBS on Rav, Wisteria on Rav) I swear, it is the all Malabrigo all the time channel around here! I'm not officially participating in NaKniSweaMo (National Sweater Knitting Month), but I am planning on focusing on my unfinished sweaters in November. I'm hoping to have a whole month of sweater related celebration on the blog, so stay tuned!

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Love Is a Ball of Alpaca

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It's all would up and totally worth the yardage angst. I wish you could feel it through the computer! Soft, lofty, fluffy, and squishy. Off to pick the perfect project (as soon as I finish that damn Death Hat.)

For the Support Your Local Fiber Artist section of this post, go check out Squambo on Etsy. I found her shop through an ad on Ravelry, fell in love with her fun and quirky batts, and was pleasantly surprised to find that she's also from Louisville! Rock on!

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300 Short

My alpaca is spun, plied, and hanging out on my deck to dry this morning, although I think it's going to take most of the day because of the chill in the air.

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The bad news is, my handy yardage estimating guide lead me severely astray, and what I thought would be about 420 yards turned out to be closer to 130! I'm still not sure exactly what caused the drastic difference, but I think there are a few important contributing factors:

  • Inconsistency- It's not wildly lumpy-bumpy, but there are definitely some places that are closer to a bulky in this skein.
  • Plying- I think the guide estimates yardage for singles, not plied yarn. (Although even dividing the numbers in two, I should have gotten more.)
  • Density- As a beginning spinner I'm having trouble even grasping this concept, but there's something about the density of handspun that is supposedly different from millspun yarns.

We're discussing my folly here on Ravelry if you want to weigh in, or benefit from the wisdom of spinners who understand it all better than me.

The biggest bummer is that this was the last roving in the dark gray color I picked, so even if I wanted to go buy some more and spin it up I can't. On the other hand, it was kind of pricey so maybe it's a good thing that I'm SOL.

I've obviously had to scrap my Irish Hiking Scarf ambitions in favor of something… well, smaller. I'm not sure what I'll make yet. I like the idea of a cowl. I definitely want that luscious alpaca right against my skin! Here are some things I'm thinking about (oh, and for the record, if you don't have an odd skein of handspun alpaca laying around, I think these would all look great in Malabrigo!):

While I wait for my yarn to dry, I'll be trying hard to finish my Fibonacci Frequency hat (Rav link) and fulfill my assassin duties for Hat Attack 2. Watch out, target!

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Dreaming Alpaca

So far, I've mostly been spinning just for the fun of it, with no real plan for doing anything with the yarn I'm making. All that's changed with seven ounces of beautiful, dark gray baby alpaca. I'm almost done spinning it up, and I'm already hunting for the perfect project for it.

There are a few barriers to this kind of scheming, like the fact that I'm not really sure how many yards I'm going to end up with. I think when it's plied I'll have something like a heavy worsted, so according to this handy chart I should have about 420 yards, but that seems like a lot! Could I really have that much yarn on two little bobbins? Oh, the suspense is killing me! That would almost certainly be enough for a really nice scarf. Could it be time to cast on for my third Irish Hiking Scarf? Or maybe this cute little scarflet with a cute little hat to go with it.

For some reason, I was convinced that alpaca was going to be too hard for me to spin. I had heard that it was "slippery" and had a short staple. Which is true, I guess, compared with a long stapled wool like Romney or BFL. But, if you are a new-ish spinner who is nervous to try spinning with alpaca, let me reassure you that it is not too bad! I've tried spinning merino with no success at all, and compared to merino this alpaca stuff is a walk in the park. If you know your way around a wheel and you've spun a skein or two, I think you'll be okay. My particular roving is Handspinner's Dream from Alpaca with a Twist, and it is one of the funnest things I've ever spun. It all but drafts itself. I hope you'll give it a go!

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Leaving Home Without It

Last night, I decided to bring my spinning wheel along to Wednesday night knitting at Sophie's. It would be the third time she's been out there so far, with mixed results. The first time I brought her along, I was so new to spinning on a wheel that I could barely manage to spin more than a foot or so without breaking my roving and having to re-join, which seemed to take forever. The second time was a little better, but Iris had "borrowed" my orifice hook, which is pretty important to the process. I destroyed a perfectly good crochet hook to make an emergency version, but it worked very badly and I didn't get much done that night either. It's still hard for me to spin and keep up with a conversation at the same time, but I figure that the only way I'll get better at social spinning is to do it.

I had big spinning goals tonight, so I packed up my bag accordingly. The plan was to spin up the other braid of Fleece Artist BFL, so I brought an empty bobbin and some leader yarn. I was so hopeful that I might get it done that I decided to bring the other bobbin, loaded with singles, and an empty bobbin on the off chance that I might even get to ply. I set off only to realize right after leaving my apartment that I'd left my wheel. I ran back into the apartment, grabbed my wheel, and headed for the yarn store.

When I got out of my car, I grabbed my wheel, purse, and bag of spinning supplies. I could hear my bobbins clacking together. Which is funny, because normally they are too insulated with roving to clack…. hey, wait a minute….. where's my roving?

Yeah. Roving at the house.

In fact, I had left the house with no roving and nothing to knit! Not even my emergency sock that is supposed to be in my purse at all times! Ack!

The purpose of this post is to explain why I bought more roving tonight, even though I have several pounds at home.

On the bright side, now I know that spinning baby alpaca is in my skill range!

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