Spinning Update

One thing I’ve been doing a lot more of lately is spinning! I thought I’d share some photos of my handspun yarn.

First up: Sleepy Hollow

My husband bought me the 2nd and 3rd shipments from the brand-new Rockin’ Whorl Club (by Blue Moon Fiber Arts).  My friend Jen got the first shipment, so I was able to see the roving and read the dyers notes for that as well.

The 2nd shipment had two braids of dyed-to-match roving.  The bigger one was 5 oz of 100% BFL mix; the smaller, 3 oz of 50/50 merino and mulberry silk.

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The notes suggested that we spin the BFL fluffy, and the merino/silk skinny, and then ply them holding the skinny ply a bit tighter so that the fluffy ply to make the fluffy ply stand out and spiral around.  I put in my best effort, and got about 324 yards of 2-ply, in a heavy worsted weight. I had some of the merino/silk skinny single leftover, so I plied it back to itself and got about 64 yards of sport-weight 2-ply.

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This one is the all-skinny 2-ply:
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Next up: Midnight in Gallifrey

Last May I bought two pounds of super-soft blue-black roving at the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival, with plans to spin a sweater’s worth of yarn. It is a 65% wool, 25% alpaca, 13% silk blend from Gurdy Run Woolen Mill.

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I’d spun a bit of it using my old (only) style, and the resulting yarn was skinny and harsh.  After a lesson from spinning friends, I’m able to spin a loftier/softer yarn — I’ve finished two big skeins of it so far — it’s turning out as a heavy DK/light worsted.  I plan to use Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit application to design the perfect sweater for my non-standardized handspun yarn.

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Next up: Mad Color BFL

Another purchase from NHSW: a braid of roving from Mad Color Fiber Arts. The “cowgirl” colorway seemed like it might be suited to some gradient spinning … something I really wanted to try.

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I split the entire braid in half, then split each half lengthwise. I spin white to black to white for each half, then plied them together. While plying the color changes were staggered a bit, so there is some barber-pole effect at the transitions. I kinda like how it helps the colors blend. I ended up with about 280 yards of roughly sport-weight yarn.

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It’s pretty skeined, but it’s even better caked!

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Last but not Least: Re-Plies

One important bit of feedback from the spinning circle was that my yarn was “overspun and underplied.”  I decided to run several skeins through the wheel again, just to ply them a bit more.  I was happily surprised that the resulting yarn was MUCH MORE like real yarn — plush instead of harsh, coherent instead of stringy.  Here are some “before and after” shots…

Long Island Livestock Llama

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Long Island Livestock Mystery Blend

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Touch of Magic

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FO Friday: Chicken Mittens

I made some chicken mittens!

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Project: Chicken Mittens

Pattern: Honeycock Mittens

Designer: SpillyJane

Available: sometime after July 2013

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in “Doodle Doo” (red), “Honey Cocka” (yellow), and “Valkyrie Fledge” (purple)

This was the July Rockin’ Sock Club “not a sock” pattern.  The club yarn was GORGEOUS, as you can see.  I loved the whimsy of the chicken mittens.

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I have to say I was a bit disappointed in how the red/purple colorwork on the cuff just doesn’t show up as colorwork — the colorways just overlapped too much, sharing more than one red/brown hue.  Similarly, some of the brown in the yellow colorway was close enough to the brown in the red colorway that some of the rooster’s tail can be a bit hard to see.  This makes him look off-center on the mitten.

However these are minor quibbles.  After waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the mittens to dry, they have become my go-to mittens this season. Honey Cocka Doodle Doo, my Valkyrie Fledge!

FO Friday: Wavelength

The May 2012 club shipment from BMFA was a gorgeous variegate skein with most (if not all) of my favorite colors.  Yay! I chose to do the not-a-sock pattern:

Project: Wavelength

Pattern: Breaking Waves

Designer: Carson Demers

Available: sometime after May 2013

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight in Wavelength (May 2012 Club Colorway)

This pattern began at the neck with stockinette …. that was gathered into three-dimensional waves every so often.  It was a cool technique! After a few repeats of that, it transmuted into some fairly standard lace.  I heard rumors that many knitters threw in an extra lace repeat without running short, but I chose to knit as-written — I like a small scarf-size shawl, and I wanted to save some yarn for hexipuffs.

FO Friday: Ravellenic Edition (Part II)

I finished my other two projects for the Ravellenic Games!

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Project: Blue Tiles

Pattern: Parquet Tiles

Designer: Rose Beck

Available: $5 for this pattern alone, or $12.99 for the Archi-textural Collection (on Ravelry, naturally)

Yarn: Knit Picks Capra in Celestial

I love this soft and luscious yarn!  The pattern was not my usual “type” — I’m not often drawn to plain-old knit&purl designs. Too many are poorly-rendered, overly-cutesy designs fit only for washcloths.  But, Parquet Tiles is elegant and lovely — not washcloth-like at all.  Enjoyable knit, reasonably quick, well-written pattern.  High marks!

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I worked hard throughout the Olympics on my puffs.  I’m proud to say I have officially “caught up” to my 366 in 2012 goal, and I’m currently running 4 puffs ahead of schedule! I was helped greatly by a mini-skein swap of 40 gorgeous new STR Lightweight colorways.

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Project: 40 STR Puffs

Pattern: the beekeeper’s quilt

Designer: tiny owl knits

Available: $5.50 on Ravelry

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight

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FO Friday: Wavelength

This year, I am 3/3 for finishing sock-club projects for the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Notorious Sock Knitters club! 🙂  This is the not-sock pattern from March:

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Project: Wavelength

Pattern: Breaking Waves

Designer: Carson Demers

Available: sometime after March 2013

Yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight in “Wavelength”

I am always interested to see how variegated yarn knits up.  Check out this comparison of the skeined yarn …

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…with the full shawlette:

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This pattern used an interesting technique to warp and ruffle the top part of the shawl.  The ripples are achieved by working stockinette stitch for a spell, then on a “pickup” row you knit the stitch on the needle together with a stitch from a previous row.  Very cool textural and 3-D effect!

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Although many club members chose to knit an additional repeat of the feather-and-fan bottom edging, I decided to knit the pattern as written — I like this compact scarf/shawlette size.

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FO Friday: RedBud Socks That Rock

My May 2012 shipment of Socks That Rock arrived as I was speeding down the toe of my 2nd sock from the March 2012 shipment … I did manage to finish one before starting the other!

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Project: March 2012 Socks That Rock Socks

Pattern: redbud

Designer: Linda Welch

Available: available after March 2013

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in Budding Twig

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Socks are worked cuff-down with a turned hem. I used a provisional cast-on for the hem, to reduce bulk. I love the cuff pattern and the simple lace pattern too. The yarn is lovely and spring-y and was just the thing, back in March! 🙂  My older STR socks have been shrinking a bit over time and many wearings/washings, so I decided to use the recommended needle size (instead of going down a size) and making size M.

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Cast-On Monday: Socks That Rock (May 2012 Club Shipment)

The odd-numbered months bring YARN in the mail! Specifically, gorgeous hand-painted sock yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, from their sock club line.  Yay!  I think we’re still in the spoiler period, so I will follow rules and say only that the colorway is beautiful (stash page here), and that I’m doing the not-sock pattern (project page here).  If you click on links, that’s up to you — spoilers abound!

CO Monday: Emperor’s New Mitts, March 2012 RSC Socks, and Tute Catkin

Last week I received the latest shipment from the BMFA Rockin’ Sock Club! The March 2012 yarn is to DIE for.  Can’t share photos yet, of course, but I will soon!  I’ve decided to make the sock pattern this month — it’s perfect for the yarn.

I also cast on for my very own Catkin! I’ve loved this pattern for quite some time, and I think it will be stunning in Mad Tosh Light in “French Grey” and “Byzantine.”

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I hope everyone in the knitting world took time to cast on yesterday for Louise Zass-Bangham‘s new design, The Emperor’s New Mitts. I did, and I don’t regret it one little bit! I elected to use the recommended yarn, Rumplestiltskin (100% pure spun gold), Unicorn (100% rainbow), and Jason (golden fun fur).  Of course it took extra care and time to place the 3000 gold beads, but I think you would agree that the results are worth it!

Here is Julian modelling my new mitts — very pretty, no?

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Sock Yarn Review: Socks That Rock

I have knit a lot of socks.  As in, there are 50 pairs of socks on my project page on Ravelry.  That’s not even counting socks that were ornaments.  A lot of these socks were gifts, but I have kept a couple dozen pairs for myself.  I wear pretty much exclusively hand-knit socks, summer and winter.  I put my socks through a LOT — they are worn in hot, sweaty sneakers at outdoor dog agility trials,  in boots on snow-tubing trips, and nearly every day in my favorite pair of black leather shoes.  About the only abuse they don’t get is being worn alone — even indoors, I usually have slippers on my feet. In the beginning, I took sock yarn at it’s word, and I used to machine wash AND dry all my socks with all the rest of the laundry.  Eventually I decided that my socks had a hard enough life already, so now my socks get medium hand-knit treatment: I machine wash them in a separate load on the “hand wash” setting (cold water, intermittent agitation), and I hang them on the banister to dry.

I’ve noticed that some brands hold up better than others, and I’ve decided to share my thoughts with you, dear reader. This post will be the first in a series of sock-yarn reviews. I will address the aspects of sock yarn that are meaningful to me: beyond the initial pleasure of creating the socks, how do the socks wear?  Propensity to felt, pill, fade, or shrink can ruin a beautiful pair of socks, and I’ve had a few brands become card-board stiff over time. Please allow that this is only my personal, unscientific opinion!  All usual disclaimers apply.

The target this week is one of my favorite brands of sock yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight and Socks That Rock Mediumweight.  For the last few years, I’ve been a member of the BMFA sock club, which ships yarn and two gorgeous full-color patterns every other month.  I adore their base yarn — a tightly spun, springy fiber — and their dyer creates vibrant, gorgeous colorways.  It is a joy to knit with, whether in plain stockinette, lace, or cables. Here are the seven pairs of socks that I’ve knit over the last few years with STR, along with the date I finished the project:

Cascadia (Feb 2010)

Still soft, mild pilling and felting (toe and heel), mild shrinkage, severe fading.

Then:

9655 Cascadia socks9630 Happy Go Lucky Cascadia

Now:

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Secret Garden (April 2010):

Still soft, mild pilling, moderate felting (toe, heel, sole), mild shrinkage, moderate fading.

Then:

9900 BMFA STR March 2010 socks

Now:

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Firecracker Corners (Jan 2011):

Mostly soft, moderate pilling, moderate felting (toe, heel, sole), no shrinkage, moderate fading.

Then:

1339 firecracker socks

Now:

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Jan 2011 RSC Socks (Jan 2011):

Still soft, mild pilling, moderate felting (toe, heel, sole), no shrinkage, severe fading.

Then:
1939 Jan 2011 STR Social Network

Now:
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Mar 2011 STR (May 2011):

Still soft, mild pilling, mild felting (toe, heel), no shrinkage, mild fading. ALSO — I had to darn a hole in the leg already, and another hole has appeared near the cuff. I think this is a fluke for this particular colorway (possibly even just this skein), as I have never had any trouble with holes/breakage with this yarn before or since.

Then:
2357 Electric Kool-Aid Acid Socks

Now:
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Problem:
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July 2011 STR Socks (Oct 2011):

Still soft, mild pilling, mild felting (toe, heel), no shrinkage, mild fading.

Then:
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Now:
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Shoreward Socks (Jan 2012):

Still soft, no pilling, mild felting (toe, heel), no shrinkage, no fading. (These socks have only been worn a handful of times, and likely will fade and pill at least a little bit.)

Then:
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Now:
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Conclusions:

Softness: 5/5

Pilling: 4/5

Felting: 4/5

Shrinking: 4.5/5 (do not wash/dry with regular laundry)

Fading: 3/5 (some colorways fade more than others — red/pink seem particularly vulnerable)

 

 

Average: 4.1/5

I will continue to buy STR yarn. I don’t think it holds up well to regular laundry treatment, despite being “superwash.”  After I switched to gentler laundering, I no longer had a problem with shrinkage.  I expect all my socks to felt a bit at the toes and heel (tennis shoes! summer!), and pilling a bit is also expected.  I have been disappointed with how faded some of the socks became — after all, the gorgeous colorways are a big part of the draw for STR yarn.  I would be hesitant to buy a lot of red/pink yarn from them (although I still love getting it in the sock club!).  I may try a vinegar bath with any future red/pink colorways.

FO Friday: Shoreward Socks

I finished these socks a few weeks ago.  I’ve been wearing them LOTS — so I guess it’s about time I FO-Friday-ed them.  “Shoreward” was one of two patterns from the September shipment of the Rockin’ Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

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Project: Shoreward Socks

Pattern: Shoreward Socks

Designer: Sivia Harding

Available: sometime after September 2012 

Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Drop Dead Gorgeous

The pattern doesn’t photograph easily — you’ll have to trust me when I say how pretty the twisted stitches and curved recurves are.  The construction is fairly traditional toe-up style, with a nice heel flap. I love how she makes sure the leg pattern lines up, no matter where you started the gusset etc. The waffle-ish pattern on the instep and leg front make these socks a little heavy/bulky, but also super warm and squishy.  It’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.

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Best of all (from my point of view) is the yarn — the colorway is, as advertised, Drop Dead Gorgeous.  I mean, look at this stuff!

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The first time I saw it, I thought ZOMBIE! 🙂