Monday, September 24, 2012

Designing a stole

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on a design inspired by Rhodocrosite. The idea of a lace plaid design was intriguing. I sketched out this stole.
The fully colored squares are the solid parts, the horizontally colored in parts are semi-solid and the vertically colored in parts are the least solid and the most lacy. The next step was to work out the details of each square. The solid ones were easy. They are going to be stockinette.

I pulled the yarn out and started swatching. My first instinct was to use purse st for the really lacy parts. Purse st is simply yo, p2tog in every row.
You can see the purse st on the bottom right hand side of the swatch. I like the texture but it is biasing quite a bit. This swatch has been washed and is blocked so it is relatively straight. but you can still see how the bottom right hand side corner is curling. So I changed from purse st to its complement, yo, k2tog in every row. The top right of the swatch represents this. And it didn't bias. So that is what the lacy squares are going to be.

At the same time, I was planning the semi-solid squares. I started off by doing a yarnover row every other RS row. This is the bottom left of the swatch. The basic pattern is 3 knit rows and 1 purl row. Every other knit row is replaced by a yo, k2tog row. But I found that this did not provide enough contrast with the lacy squares, as you can see on the bottom left. Yes, it is more solid, but not solid enough.

Therefore, I decided to just do the yo, k2tog row once in every 8 rows instead of once every 4 rows. That is the top left of the swatch and this provided enough contrast for me. My stitch patterns were now complete.

The last part of the design is determining how many sts and rows formed each square. I had planned a 24 st square in the swatch and that gives me a 7" square if I did 32 rows. Perfect. 7" times 3 squares is 21" which is a good width for the stole. I am still debating whether the length should be 11 squares wide or 9 squares wide. I need an odd number to make it symmetrical at both ends. 11 squares gives me a length of 77" which seems a bit much for a stole. 9 squares gives me 63" so I may go with the 9 squares.

That tells me I need to CO 24 x 9 sts = 216 sts.

My work here is done. Now all I have to do is knit the stole. :-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fibery doings and planning

 I did a lot of spinning and knitting this week. I spun and plied a lac and indigo dyed roving from Handspun by Stefania. I bought this at Rhinebeck last year after sampling her fiber during my spinning class with Amy Tyler. It started off looking like this...
and ended up like this...

I spun it woolen - long draw and it was interesting to see that as I progressed through the 4 oz, it got thinner and thinner. I divided the fiber equally by weight for each bobbin but the second bobbin was about 1.5 times as long as the first!

On the knitting front, I have been working on my second Dancing Cranes stole. I have one half a repeat left. It looks like a mess now. I will probably do a blog post on blocking it so you can see the process. This is a linen/silk fiber from ColourMart. I bought 3 cones of it and used the first color to make the first Dancing Cranes stole. This is the second color and see below for the third one. It is a bit stiff to knit with but softens up nicely after washing. Linen/silk is extremely durable and easy to maintain and will get softer and softer with use and washing.

Now onto the plans...
I found these 14 skeins of Jamieson Double Knitting yarn. Given the fact that these are skeins, I wonder if I got a good deal on them when they changed the packaging. I am wondering what to do with them. There are 170 yds of each color and only 1 skein each. Any ideas?
 After the Dancing Cranes stole is done, I am going to knit a lace plaid stole. It is loosely based on Rhodocrosite by Norah Gaughan. More on that as I start knitting it. This is the third of the linen/silk cones I bought.
It is a pretty teal color. It would look lovely with jeans, which is exactly what I was thinking as I spun the indigo-lac dyed yarn above. As I spun over my jeans, the fiber blended almost invisibly with my jeans-clad thigh.

So that is it. As we finish one project, our minds are already rapidly moving on to the next one so that we are ready to cast on right after binding off. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shiny, pretty

Sometimes I feel like a magpie. These things made me happy this morning.
 My Trindle with the golden dragon arm set and purple fiber.

The two skeins drying on the rack - the top is the Spring Fling coopworth/silk and the bottom is the one I spun from the art batt I bought at Harrisville.  I could use those two together - they are so similar.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I just spent a couple of hours taking plying twist out of the last fiber I finished. It was just too tightly plied for my taste. I wanted a fluffy, lofty yarn and it was exactly the opposite. I spun it woolen to get that lofty, fluffy, springy yarn. So I wanted to fix it and get what I wanted. Interestingly, after I took out some of the plying twist, it took up more space on the bobbin!

 This is the picture of the yarn after the first plying, when it was too tight.

Now look at it after taking out some of the plying twist. It barely fit on the bobbin and is much more spongy.

 I finished my Tour de Fleece project also. The skein is finished and done.
I am not a big fan of this yarn but it actually looks better in the skein than it did on the bobbin or the spindle.

I also took a few pictures of the Girl Friday sweater after it was completed. And I started a new knitting project.
 I think the sweater is lovely, even though I say it myself. It really was hard on my hands though, more than anything else I've knitted lately.

 I am knitting a second Dancing Cranes stole for a gift. Same yarn as before, different color. It is an easy knit and looks great. The new one is purple, although it looks blue in this photo.
It has been a busy week as far as knitting and spinning are concerned. I have not done much the last couple of days as I had to have a vertically fractured tooth extracted. It was completely unplanned. I thought I was going to have a root canal and came back sans tooth. I am doing quite well now although the past 48 hours have been a bit painful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Plied up a storm!

I finished spinning and plying the Coopworth/silk that I was working on. It is looking lovely.

I also thought I had finished plying the Targhee I started during the Tour de Fleece. But I hadn't. I have one spindle full left! big sigh 

I will have to wind it off and Andean ply it. At least the rest of it is still on the bobbin so I will have one skein. looking for the silver lining
Now off to plan more spinning. I also started knitting a new project but I haven't taken pictures of it yet. That will be for the next post.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Catchup on my own fibery doings

I know I've been chatty lately but I've had a lot to share! Think about that when I'm silent for a week or two. It all averages out in the end, doesn't it?

What I have not done is shared progress on the knitting and spinning front with my projects.

Spinning-wise, I finished spinning and plying the first set of singles from the Spring Fling bump. There is still a little on the second bobbin, which I have not finished because...
... I have two small bits left to spin. I had a bit more than half a pound of roving and I think the bobbins on the Tina don't hold more than 4 oz each. I will be spinning these onto two free bobbins and then finishing up the plying.
 On the knitting front, I finally finished the Girl Friday sweater. You only get a flat picture today because I washed it last night and it is still drying. I will take a picture on a person and post it later. It looks skinny and long because the lace pattern pulls in.
That's all, f-f-folks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My latest toy

I have the cutest little toy. Except that it isn't really a toy. It is a spindle. I got a Jenkins Kuchulu spindle! I also found a little box to carry it in where it will be protected but I can have it on hand at all times.
 Here is the Kuchulu. It is made of rosewood. Wanda Jenkins attached a leader made out of that lovely blue fiber before it was mailed to me. Now that is customer service! I took these pictures with a pencil so you can see the size of the box and the spindle.
 Once you remove the shaft, the spindle fits nicely inside the box. It is a metal box so it provides support for the spindle. The shaft also fits in there.
 The fiber goes in next and it pads the spindle and keeps it from moving.
 The closed box from the top.
 The closed box from the side.
Last, but not least, the Swiss Army knife that came in the box originally. I threw out the plastic insert that was shaped to hold the knife. The top of the box is padded as that was not an insert and not shaped to fit the knife. It just held the little case that you can see between the knife and the box.

I spun a little on the spindle last night and really enjoyed it. I can drop this in my purse and carry it anywhere and it will be there to entertain me and make waiting time productive.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Making multi-colored yarn out of single colored fiber

We spent a half day making lots of multi-colored yarns from a pile of solid colored rovings. I am showing you some pictures of the samples Maggie showed us along with some of my experimentation.

First and simplest in concept is to hold multiple rovings together and spin them. Judith Mackenzie showed us an example of this in a retreat I attended last year. I will talk some more about that later as I experiment with that technique myself. But Maggie's ideas are simpler. You can hold the rovings together and spin as is - across the colors or you can predraft them together. Predrafting blends them a bit more as the colors thin out. You can also predraft more of one color to get more of it in the mix. These two pictures are of a sample knitted like this.
Another option, to create an ikat effect, is to plan the lengths of the colors in the yarn you want. Maggie had a knitted sample like this but I am showing a woven one. The warp was spun with longer lengths of the white with the other colors having shorter lengths. The weft was spun with very short bits of the other colors so they wouldn't pool on the shorter width of the scarf. One way to get really short bursts of color is to spin them over the fold. Maggie had a mosaic knit piece that looked as if it had been knitted with a Noro-like yarn. What she had done was spin that with solid colors spun from the fold so each color was a very short length in the final yarn. This made each part of the mosaic that showed have a different color in it. Very cool.

This next set of samples was to do a gradual change of color by spinning sections of solid color with transitions planned by holding the two colors together. The advantage of this, if you want to plan it out, is that you can spin longer lengths of color for the body of a sweater and shorter lengths for the sleeves so you can get the same width of the various colors in both sections. Also, for a triangular shawl, you can increase the lengths of each color segment to accommodate the shawl's getting wider from top to bottom.

If you want to spin for socks and want even stripes, you can measure out the length of each color and spin your singles in the same color sequence. The key here is rewinding the bobbins and starting to ply from the beginning so that the colors match up better and slight variations in the length will become color transitions.

Now, similar to Judith's technique, Maggie showed us two samples. One was spun across the web, worsted, with multiple colors. You hold them together and spin across the colors to get lengths of each color in the single. You can also spin woollen long draw by spinning one for a while and then another.
The sample below is a 3 ply spun this way, with more periwinkle than the other colors.
The sample below is a 2-ply spun with 1 color more than the other. It was spun long draw with more periwinkle than the other colors. 3-ply tends to blend the colors more than 2-ply.
Blurry pictures of the entire samples below. Sorry about the quality of the photographs. Maggie was showing them to us, talking about them and then passing them around. So I was listening and observing and photographing as they came around.

 I spun some singles in various ways but then I picked a bunch of colors and drum carded them together. Below you can see a sample skein I made by woollen spinning 3 different colored rovings and plying them together. When I ran out of one, I continued with just a 2-ply. You can see a bit of it where it is just brown and gold.
The drum carding was fun. This blends the colors more and gives you little heathered bits of color as you spin.
One side of the batt.
The other side of the batt.
I then spun a single, woollen long draw, from the batt. I plied that single with my other colored singles and even some worsted that we had been spinning when we were talking about worsted-spun yarn. So there are a lot of colors in this skein. The colors move from one to another with varying lengths based on what I was trying.
This was one of the most fun parts of the class. We played a lot with colors. I have some solid colored roving from Judith's class and I plan to play some more to practice these techniques. I hope this gives you ideas and inspires you to play with some of the fiber you have. You might not like a color by itself and you can spark it up or subdue it by mixing it in various ways with other colors. You could card them together, of course, but you don't need to.