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Project: Knit Handspun

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Blue isn’t a color I generally associate with sadness as blue is my favorite color. There are different shades to match my mood, and everyone looks good in blue. There’s a reason indigo was and is still so widely used; blue jeans anyone?

My favorite color of blue is the color at twilight that lasts maybe five whole minutes. The air is blue. When the sky goes from that clear light blue to a darker blue to an almost purple to stars. I was able to watch twilight as I drove home from work last night and added just the right touch to the end of the day.

I was racing against the clock, and my hands, Sunday night to finish up Caricia. I just wanted it done, so that I can go on to something else. I was finally at the point where the repeats were memorized, and it just flew off the needles, but I wasn’t able to take any pictures because of the lack of natural light. I still can’t get over how cool it is to knit your own handspun. Really, there’s nothing like it. I’m learning a lot about what I like in a yarn, and how to fix that when I’m spinning to a purpose.

Here’s the detail of the top edging. I’ve never done a shawl that has edging at the top, and the way Anne has it added on as you knit the shawl is really clever.

And this is a detail of the pattern itself. [Please excuse the smudge; it’s probably from me messing around with the lens earlier this week. I’ve since cleaned it off. I was scared it was a scratch!] I love how the pattern is lacy and angular- this would work well for man lace, too.

Caricia in all her blocked glory. I was able to squeeze out 12 repeats with my 560 yards of handspun. I wasn’t able to get the 13th because the first skein was thicker than the others, and I felt ooky about there being 13 repeats on each side.  I know, I’m odd like that. It’s a little bigger than my handspun Swallowtail, but will be perfect for the intended recipient.

My hands wanted a break yesterday, and I couldn’t settle myself down to spin until late last night, so I searched around for a simple crochet pattern. Repeatable and no though involved was the general idea.  I had this ball of light fingering weight silk that I’d spun last summer, and I wanted to use it. I’m trying to use more stash yarn, as well as spin more fiber stash, before I head to Maryland Sheep and Wool in six weeks.

I found the It’s Just a Triangle Tutorial through Ravelry. [I love Ravelry’s search function. It’s seriously helpful.] Just a double crochet pattern, and I did a little shell stitch edging to girl it up. I have hardly any of the ball left over, and it’s just big enough to work either as a staticy headscarf or a light neck scarf. I’m still trying to decide if I need to wait another decade for that to be appropriate, or to just wear it because I like it. I’m teetering more towards the wearing it as a neck scarf, ’cause the silk feels so nice.

So now there’s just Irtfa’a on the needles, of which I will get a picture when I’m done with the drop shoulder char. I’m going to start Matt’s birthday socks soon, that way they are done and out of the way well before said event. It’s going to be a busy summer.

What color does it for you?

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Continuing with trying to spin the handspun in my stash, I began this as a way to cut the monotony of knitting my Monkey socks. [Those are done, by the way, I finished them last night, and wore them today. I’ll take pictures as soon as I get a sunny spot.]

My friend Sue has spun some yarn, and said that she wasn’t going to use it, and was I interested? I love knitting with handspun yarn, and knitting with yarn from a friend is ever better. She tends to spin singles, and I just didn’t think this one would hold for how I knit. I have no idea what it’s fiber contents are. Matt held it and he said it didn’t have any wool in it, but I find that hard to believe. It’s pretty, but I don’t know if I”m going to keep it in this pattern. It doesn’t really show off the colors the way I would like, but there isn’t enough in the skein to make something large. Maybe this just needs to be plain garter stitch and I should accept, knit, and move on.

The handspun blue blob from earlier is done and blocked. Ths is from the same Sue. It’s not very large, probably about three feet across at the diagonal. I plan on using it as a lap blanket. Scratchy when knitted, and kind of stiff, a dunk with the all natural conditioner made it MUCH softer and the yarn bloomed nicely. I can’t use the condition on my hair for various reasons, but I think it’ll work well on knits that need softening; it also smells like citrus, which is a huge plus. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, or if I’ll even keep it. For know it’s going into the cedar chest with the other blankets.

I finally have some image of my finished Mr. Greenjeans. I used Cotton ease, thinking that the acrylic in it would help the cotton hold some kind of shape. Not really. I should have knit this a size smaller than my actual mesaurements; this sweater tends to run large, even when I did manage to get gague. I mostly wear it around the house and out running errands, as it tends to slip off my shoulders.

I learned a lot from knitting it, though. Firstly, I like my cardigans with a bit of negative ease around the bust, looser around my middle, and the sleeves need to be able to go over a few layers, but not much. I’m keeping this in mind when I start the February Lady Sweater, hereto referred to as FLS.

Top down raglan contruction is great for me, as long as I keep in mind that my shoulders aren’t as broad as I think they are [which I constantly over estimate] and my arms aren’t nearly as large as I think they are, even when I measure them. I think, if I knit this again, I wouldn’t have the V neck, or I would increase at a greater rate. And really, my buttonbands leave A LOT to be desired. For the FLS, I’m going to not put in any button holes, but rely on either snaps, or the loop and button method.

I do, however, love that the cardigan goes right back into shape when I dry it.

Wow, I didn’t think I had as much to say as I did about Mr. Greenjeans. I am going to knit it again, I think, in wool, with a few more modifications. Matt got me both sets of the Knit Picks interchangeable sets for Christmas, ordered early as not to have to wait on back order, so I think a smaller needle will fit the ticket.

Happy Halloween!

Let’s take a moment to talk about handspun yarn.

I am a spinner; I consider my self a Knitter, with a capitol K, but I really don’t feel like I’ve reached that point with spinning yet. I do own a drop spindle and a wheel, and I do have a lovely little fiber stash. [Spinners in my spinning group tell me it’s paltry. I feel like it’s enough- for now!]

Lately, I’ve been buying fiber and spinning it to a purpose. There’s still the joy of Making Yarn, something which will always be so cool. But that joy has somewhere to go: a pair of socks, a shawl, a bag. There lies the opportunity to put even more intention into whatever it is that is being made.

Not to mention, the cool factor. I still can’t get over the fact I’m making yarn. But I’ll stop before I go into raptures that get a bit repetitive.

Do not adjust your screen; it really is that eye-blindingly bright.  I bought this fiber right after I began spinning, back in April. Purchased from the now defunct Spingwater in Alexandria, this fiber was with which I tried spinning 1/3 grist of fingering weight. I Navajo plied it, or at least, whacked out some version of Navaho that does the job for me. Whether or not I’m doing it perfectly doesn’t really concern me at this point in time- it worked, therefore, I love it. Navajo plying is my favorite way to ply at the moment, for a variety of reasons. I’ll wax poetic later. I really enjoyed playing with color, but I had no idea what to make with it. I had a little over 4 ounces, and something like 600 yards of fingering weight.

I let it marinate in the stash for a bit. I didn’t want to make socks because I didn’t think I had spun it tightly enough to stand up to the wear of socks.

Then- inspiration!

Enter Swallowtail. I knit this before for my friend Elle as a thank you for putting me up for two weeks when I went out to visit her this past summer. I worried about pooling at first, but then realized that because I had spun it willy nilly, there wasn’t going to be any color repeats. AWESOME.

When I knit it the first time, I knit the nupps. All of ’em. I really didn’t want to do it this time, and thought I would add to my knitting skills with beads. It’s all the rage right now at my Wednesday night knitting group, so I figured why not? The beads take place of the nupps, and woah, I love it. It slows down those rows considerably because you have to stop, pick up the bead on the hook, pick up the stitch, slide the bead on, then slide the knit stitch back onto the needle. I think the results are totally worth it.

My absolute favorite part of the shawl is the Lily of the Vally bits. The color stripes waver, and the beads add that nice little clack. I am in love with this shawl, and I am so not giving it up. Nope. Mine. On top of it being so stinkin’ pretty; I knit it in FOUR DAYS. There is no end of my love.

I wore it to the Montpelier Fiber Festival last weekend, and it was huge hit. I like to joke this is my hunting shawl because there’s no way you’d miss me in the woods.

This, however, illustrates spinning to a purpose:

My little French Market Bag. I did a spinning demonstration, and as a thank you, we were told to take some fiber home. [She was not kidding, dudes. This sweet, generous woman said we could take fleeces home. Fleeces. I restrained myself and took only a few pounds.] This is a mix of a natural black and a natural white. I spun for a worsted weight, and it felted beautifully.

I’ll even knit with other people’s handspun.

I think I’m in love.

Now that school is over, I have this burning desire to KNIT ALL OF MY STASH.

All at once, even. I’ve not done enough yet. I need to knit more and more of it. I don’t know where this urge is coming from- especially since I was talking to my husband, and he related something he heard from one of the eco friendly podcasts he listens to. Some people know that cows actually make a lot of methane- they have four stomachs and burp a lot. Some propose that cows are going to have to go if we’re to keep the earth from exploding. My repsonse was “well, as long as they leave sheep alone.” He got very quiet, and said, ” It would have to be sheep, too.”

My heart almost stopped. What? Sheep? Poor harmless sheep? No more wool? I have to knit with wool, my poor hands can’t take cotton and other plant based fibers all the time!

It’s ten o’clock at night and in a full panic, I bought 3 skeins of Socks that Rock lightweight in Corbie. Full price even. It’s going to be for my graduation shawl, meaning my gift to myself, Anne Hanson’s Cluaranach. I don’t buy yarn like that; I am a thrifty wait for the sale shopper. I take apart sweaters.

So I’m torn, really, between becoming the type of hoarder that is put on an Oprah special, and continuing to knit through my stash so I can buy a few sweaters’ worth of yarn/fiber.

I know I’m being silly. I don’t want a lot of stuff, yarn included. I want to have enough to knit one large and one small project. I only want enough for 2 spinning projects at a time. Spinning fiber = yarn= stash= something to be knit.

I’m not going on a “yarn diet” [ I don’t really even like the connotation diet is getting anyways. Diet is actually defined as a total of what you consume food wise, not a strict dietary regimine], but I am going to be way more concious about what I am buying and to what purpose. No sock yarn without a pattern [like that’s going to be a problem, I have 9 bajilliony saved on the computer], no laceweight unless there is a SPECIFIC shawl ready to be cast on.

Wow. That was a tangent. I kind of went off base there. To get back to where I was going….

I knit up some of my handspun yesterday during a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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An Unoriginal Hat. My first Handspun. I used all of it and it’s just That much too small to fit my head properly. I’m going to find someone else who can actually wear these colors. Anyone want a hat?

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This is just a simple garter stitch scarf- as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says “Cast on enough stitches, knit till done.” It’s 4″ by 90″, dyed by me.

The little thing you see sticking out of the corner, which I didn’t notice until I uploaded my pictures, is the first lace weight handspun I’ve done.

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The colorway is Carribean, and I got the fiber from Smokey Mountain Fibers. I still need to soak and set the twist on it, but I won’t get to that today. It’s still fairly damp here and I don’t want to leave it outside in case it rains again.

I’ll also want to start another shawl if I do that, and I really don’t need to do that just yet. I’m thinking about taking it with me to Seattle at the end of the June as my knitting project. We’ll see.

Have a beautiful weekend!