Thursday, June 23, 2011

Art Batts can be spun into a 2 ply yarn!

Remember the Burn's Bog art batt from my previous post?
Here is a photo reminder:
Hand dyed Cormo top
Hand dyed Border Leicester (from raw fleece)
Kid Mohair (from raw fleece) with locks.
Pulled Sari Silk

When it comes to art batts many spin it into art yarns. Core spun and such. I decided to pull strips (lengthwise) off this batt and just spin as it came. Two singles emerged and I plyed them together with a bunch of twist into a worsted weight 2 ply yarn. The textures and varied fibers make for a fun green and brown yarn base full of specs of colour and portions of white fluffy locks.

135 yards to finish, worsted weight. Tentatively called Gypsy. I have no clue what to knit with it, but it's going to make for a great textural colour filled item!

Give an art batt a shot! Some are majorly chunky lumpy bumpy, with minimal carding. Run through a wide toothed carder once, the individual add ins are left in huge chunks. Those I'm not entirely sure of yet (seem to be best for felting perhaps?), to be honest- but a textured blended batt spun up quite nicely as singles for a 2 ply!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Knitting OCD

I've been knitting like a mad woman; going from project to project (socks, to cowl to cowl to shrug) and putting them in my winter knits bin when I'm done. I guess I'm stocking up for Christmas or Maine?

The reason I decided to learn how to knit socks was a pair from Cookie A that I saw in a magazine (Knit1) and became obsessed with their gorgeous flowing ribbing. I finally knit that pair, and am even more in love. For the first time I can say I've found a pattern I will gladly knit over and over because of how fun it is! They look complicated, but it's all just  well patterned ribbing. Cookie A is a genius.

Meet my Marlene Dream socks (knit in Tidepool Heather Essential Sport by Knitpicks)

They are a bit thicker than regular socks because they were knit with sport weight, but I absolutely love them! I can't wait for a Maine winter to try these puppies out. Maybe I'll order a bunch of sport weight so I can knit more.

Why yes, my handspun super big thick and thin cowl is finished!
 Defying gravity! I just draped it on the tree and thought that was pretty nifty.

 You can wrap it around a few times and keep super warm. It's pretty thick as well. Can you be in love with a cowl? Because if you can be, I am with this one. Right up my ally with the texture and super over sized.

Then I cast on for another cowl right after. I won a Madison Cowl kit from The Sweatshop of Love  which came in a cute project bag with: laminated instructions, a hank of Vanna's Choice acrylic yarn (in black, the colour I picked) and 4 great hand made buttons. I really enjoyed this knit! It was fast, but just enough not to get boring. The buttons, seed stitch border and adorable leaf lace print make for a fun cowl.

Kind of a poopy picture, I apologise. It's a lovely cowl though! Check out better pictures on the ravelry pattern page here.

Now I'm knitting a small shrug with some Bittersweet (dark brown) Wool of the Andes I have left over from my Ingenue Sweater (which coincidentally is about to be frogged since it's HUGE on me now. Such a great feeling!) Nothing exciting, it's just a rectangle with the edges sewn up as sleeves. I'll be sure and post photos when there is something to show.

Now I'm feeling the spinning urge and may pull out my Burns Bog batts. I'm really curious to see how all the sari silk sandwiched between mohair and fine wool will spin up. I'm hoping it makes for an exciting yarn!

I miss dyeing more than I can express. I still see colour combinations and fibers that make me giddy and give me the urge to pull out my dyes again. Thank you to everyone who has been mentioning Dyeing For Ewe on social network sites! Part of me was worried that I would drift out of peoples' minds and fade away. It's nice to know that my work was memorable and missed. I'm still concentrating on working out daily (Les Mills Body Pump is amazing. If you have that program at a gym near you I highly recommend it! I'm also a huge fan of pilates. Netflix instant view has some decent videos streaming if you're interested.) and in additional personal news I'm working on getting my driver's license. I haven't driven since I left Canada, but I'm picking it back up pretty quickly. I'm hopeful I'll get my full license soon! My fiber stock is pretty much all gone, and I didn't replace it before my hiatus. Hopefully I can do a bit of dyeing before we move to Maine in September. But if not, I'm definitely going to get the pots, stocks and carder ready when we get to Maine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yummy Bumpy Lumpy Handspun

I'm still alive, promise! Knitting away and keeping busy at the gym. 20 pounds off so far! We've had some great news also. My husband has accepted a promotion and transfer that will take us to Portland, Maine. Looks like we'll be moving for September and we can't wait! I'm a coastal girl, so being back by the water will be amazing. Portland looks gorgeous, and having lived in Kingston, ONT, I'm no stranger to snow. This should be a great adventure. I will miss North Carolina though. Funny how in nearly 5 years I've gotten used to the heat and storms. The people in the south are wonderful and warm (for the most part, but this isn't the post for that ;) and that will be sorely missed as well. Maine puts me near friends though, and it's a great fiber area. I'm also looking forward to a drastic reduction in the bug population. Bugs are crazy out of control here where I live!

Back to the blog post as planned. Handpsun! Love love love working with it. Not only spinning, but actually knitting with it. I'm not sure if you recall a while back when I spun a slubby 2 ply called Habitat?
Here is a refresher:

Massive hank! (Skein? I always mix those two up.) Nearly 8oz in total. How did I spin this? I split my roving length wise into 4 strips near how thick I wanted the slubs to be. Then I spun it as a thick single by tugging out large slubs, and smoothing down the ends into a thin drafted single... rise and repeat. You'll end up with a thick and thin slub yarn with thin potions that are overtwisted, and spaced about as long as the fiber staple (important, otherwise your thick slub portions will drift apart.) If you find it's too delicate, feel free to give it a quick felt by dunking it in hot water, then cold water. This will shock some stability into the slubs.
I did this with two different falkland braids, and then plyed them together. I wish I had some photos to show, but maybe I'll stop and take some next time I make some of this yarn. (and I totally will be doing this again in the future.)
If you need any more advice on how to spin this, feel free to ask questions in the comments! It's a great art yarn and I highly recommend giving it a shot. It's also a super fast spin.

I hear "Why in the world would you want to spin such a lumpy drastic weight change art yarn?" quite often. Either you get art yarns, or you don't. As art yarns go this one is extremely accessible to knitting projects though. I decided I wanted a long chunky cowl that I could double over and that this yarn would be perfect. Here is the beginning so far (patternless, provisional cast on of 15 stitches with size 13 needles, and I'm going to knit in garter back and forth until I hit the near end of my yarn, then kitchener the ends together.)

It's hard to describe how dense and comfy this is knitting up on size 13 needles. I could probably have gone to 15, but I'm loving how this is working up so far without spaces and packed together. This cowl is going to be rustic, warm, unique and dense. Perfect for Maine winters I hope! I started out with a seed stitch pattern but it created a messy texture that didn't go with the slub yarn. Switching to garter let the yarn shine, which was truly the point in the end.

So there you go. That is what a slub yarn looks like in a knit! Not so scary eh? If you don't spin there are lots of people on etsy selling some great slub yarns. I haven't noticed many plying two together though, but I'm always willing to do it and I'm sure others will as well if you'd like to buy a truly unique warm bulky/super bulky work of yarn art. I prefer the 2 ply because I find it's more stable, and the thin portions aren't as spindly in a knit item. Just personal preference really.
Working with Habitat has been so addictive I'm itching to spin more and possibly make more of these cowls (for the shop?) I'll wait and see how it turns out first.