New Pattern: Nahant Stole/Scarf

Who loves handspun? I do! I’m pleased to share this new design via Knitty.com.

I give you … Nahant!

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I read about fractal spinning and had to try it out. Like magic, colorful high-contrast fiber fluff became self-striping-ish prismatic handspun. I absolutely adored the finished yarn, but it needed to be knit up into something special.

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rh02 spring fever fractal spun

Pattern searches left me unsatisfied — the only solution was to design the perfect stole. My requirements: mostly stockinette, with just enough pattern to keep my interest without distracting from the colorful yarn.

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Nahant highlights the color changes of my fractal handspun with a subtle leaf pattern that doesn’t fight for attention. Knit on the bias, it resists curling. Use any weight yarn (just choose the appropriate needle), and make it as wide or as narrow as you like. Length is flexible too, so you can make the most of that precious handspun yarn.

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Extra thanks to Donna (who helped me get photos at Nahant Beach for submission to Knitty) and Rebecka (who modeled “springier” pictures for me, as per Knitty’s quite reasonable request).

 

FO Friday: Mad Lamina

Check it out, gradient handspun!

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Project: MadLamina

Pattern: Lamina

Designer: Karen S. Lauger

Available: FREE! on Ravelry or on Knitty 

Yarn: my handspun Mad Color

This was the perfect little pattern for my gradient handspun.  I worked reeeealllly hard at getting the yarn to come out right, and I’m very pleased!  The roving (from Mad Color Fiber Arts) had a high-contrast and interesting color progression, and I feel like I preserved that in the finished scarf.

 

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I did get a tiny bit nervous as I neared the end of my knitting … that tiny bow of black yarn is the sum total of my leftover yarn. Whew!

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FO Friday: Sleepy Molly

I have a new favorite FO!

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Project: Sleepy Molly

Pattern: Molly

Designer: Susan Mills

Available: $6 on Ravelry (also available in several CEY booklets)

Yarn: my handspun Sleepy Hollow!

This was, simply put, the perfect pattern for this yarn. The long color repeats are highlighted by Molly’s short rows, and the rib/ruffle design was forgiving of handspun irregularities. It was a delightful knit, very fun and rewarding every step of the way.

I used needles appropriate to the yarn, but kept the stitch counts the same, so my Molly is a bit wider than the original. I hoped that I would have enough yarn to make a long enough scarf for a loop to work — both as a single-loop long cowl, and doubled up.  I had juuuust enough yarn to accomplish this goal — it is super cozy doubled up, without strangling me :).

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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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Cast-On Monday: Handspun Twist & Shout, Farfalla in Fall

I’ve been doing a lot of spinning since the New England Fiber Fest — I’ll save the details for a FO Friday post, but for now feast your eyes on my long-draw woolen 2-ply from Spunky Eclectic’s hand-painted Targhee roving:

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This was my first time with a new spinning technique, so the finished product is a bit unevenly spun and is definitely “thick and thin” in weight.  I chose a simple pattern for bulky yarn that would let me wear the sumptuously soft, pretty blue yarn right by my face: Twist and Flounce by Sharon Dreifuss.  I love how it’s working up so far:

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I also started a project with the test skeins from the gradient dyeing day with Kate.  I met Christiane Burkhard (of Lismi Knits) at Fiber Festival, and got to see her Farfalla in person.  It had been in my queue for quite a while, and seeing it in person made me bump it up in my queue.  I had had plans to knit some faux-isle mittens and hat with the coordinating/contrasting skeins of bright fall colors and slate gray, but the yarn was perfect for a Farfalla.  The design here is so clever, and it’s an enjoyable knit so far:

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FO Friday: Mosaic Bucket Hat

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Project: Mosaic Bucket

Pattern: A Better Bucket

Designer: Amy Swenson

Available: FREE! on Ravelry

Yarn: my handspun from Falkland Wool Handpainted Roving by Edgewood Garden Studio

This hat is made from my very own handspun.  I was aiming for singles that could be plied into worsted on the hi speed whorl (16:1), and plied at 14.1. The colorful yarn needed something plain to be … this bucket hat is PERFECT.  It has a turned-hem brim that helps the brim stand out.  It is the tiniest bit too deep for my head, so I’ve been wearing it with the brim flipped up on one side and pinned in place with my favorite shawl pin.

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The Roving:

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The Yarn:

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FO Friday: Aberystwyth the Quaker

This week, I have another handspun project for you …

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Project: Aberystwyth the Quaker

Pattern: Quaker Cowl

Designer: Lisa R. Myers

Available: FREE! on Ravelry

Yarn: my handspun, heavy worsted-ish, from A Hundred Ravens Merino Roving

This is a simple-yet-awesome pattern, perfect for colorful or slightly-irregular yarn. The cowl is worked in a simple 12-row pattern, on the bias.  The provisional cast on is grafted to the final row for a seamless finished cowl.  I will definitely be making it again.

For the curious … here’s the roving I bought…

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… and the yarn I made …

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… and a close-up of the finished look!

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FO Friday: Tips Off

A little while ago, I spun some yarn. As I mentioned, my youngest son laid claim to the yarn almost immediately. “Mom,” he said, “you never did make me those gloves with no fingers like you said you would.”  Way to lay on the guilt, kid!  🙂  On the other hand, it worked …

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Project: Tips Off

Pattern: improvised

Yarn: my very own handspun

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I used the Fried Chicken thumb increases as a starting point, and I tried doing the fingers with an increase row right before the fingers (rather than casting on and picking up stitches between the fingers.  Mixed results on the latter — I’m not convinced it’s easier or better than the usual way.

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Julian has been wearing these night and day — so already they are a bit worn.  It makes me so happy when something I make is well-loved.

FO Friday: Handspun Chicken Mittens

I made something out of yarn that I made!

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Project: Handspun Chicken Mittens

Pattern: Fried Chicken Mittens

Designer: Ellen Mason

Available: FREE! on Ravelry

Yarn: my very first handspun yarn

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Fried Chicken Mittens is my very favorite “just a mitten” pattern.  The way the thumb increases are done make for a superior fit!  I knew I would be a bit short on yardage, and my handspun yarn was in two or three different weights.  I started with the most irregular/bulky/fuzzy yarn at the cuff, and knit less cuff than called for.  I knit the mittens two at a time, so that if I needed to turn them into fingerless mitts, they’d be at the same point.  I joined in the mid-range yarn shortly after the cuff, and then swapped to the best yarn as that ran out.

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I knew I would be cutting it VERY close.

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As you can see, I ended up short by the tip of one thumb.  I stole a bit of yarn from the first batch spun on my new spinning wheel, and called it good.

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Introducing: the Ladybug!

The other day at the yarn shop, I received my check for two patterns that will be in the Spring 2013 Classic Elite Collection.  I jumped up and down and danced around the shop, clutching the check to my chest.  This was my spinning wheel money!

I have quite enjoyed spinning yarn on the drop spindle.  The rhythm of drawing out roving is meditative and satisfying.  However, holding the spindle up in the air is tiring, and it is frustrating to have to stop spinning when the strand is as tall as me.  I also ran into trouble as I filled the spindle with finely-spun yarn — the strand began to break under the weight of the already-spun fiber.  Plying was also a chore, to say the least.  It took me a week to spin through four ounces of roving, and (trust me) I was spinning all the time.

In short, I was quite certain a spinning wheel was in my future. I did my research, and settled on a Ladybug (by Schacht). I ordered the wheel, the attached Lazy-Kate kit, and the high-speed whorl with two high-speed bobbins.  I bought the wheel from The Woolery, in part because they offered free shipping. Also, I used their website extensively to help me decide which wheel would be right for me. They also give you a choice of either a $25 gift card for a future purchase, or a “Beginner’s Kit” with a niddy-noddy and a bag of practice wool.  I decided the niddy-noddy and practice wool would be more immediately useful, and placed my order!

(We shall not mention the week of stalking the UPS.com website.)

Here’s my box, complete with glowing-eyed canine guardians:

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I love first peek into a box — almost regardless of what’s inside:

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I took out the box of goodies and got my first good look at the wheel, then carefully pulled out the treadles and body:

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Very important: find the ladybug! (Every Ladybug wheel has it’s own little ladybug, in a place unique to that wheel.)

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Here’s all the stuff … time to IKEA this wheel!

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Treadles, check!

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Flyer, check!

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Lazy Kate, check!

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I also took some nicer natural-light photos today:

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