Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Knit-Out!

This past Sunday, the Minnesota Knitter's Guild participated in National Knit-Out Day.  We hosted the event at Southdale Mall and the festivities included a handmade knits fashion show, door prizes, and free knitting lessons to anyone who wanted them.  I volunteered to be one of the teachers, and I'm not sure who learned more - me or my students.  I've never taught knitting before, and I have to admit, I botched it with my first student.  I was nervous and it showed.  But I learned quickly from my mistakes and did just fine with my second student.  By the time I had my third student, I was in a groove and felt pretty confident.  The event was very well attended and I think everyone (except maybe my first student) had a great time. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More spindle WIP progress

I switched gears from my mixed greens yarn project to my gossamer yarn project.  Here's a summary of this yarn project to date... Detta gave me a sample of English Garden merino wool and I wanted to make the most of it, and I also wanted to try making a cabled yarn for the first time.  Cabled yarn is the result of plying two or more plied yarns together.  If you took four singles yarn and plied them together at the same time, the result is called a 4-ply yarn.  But if you take those same singles and ply two of them together at a time, and then ply the two 2-ply yarns together, your result is called a 4-strand cabled yarn.

While this may seem like a small difference in making the final yarn, the structure of the yarns is very different.  The 4-ply yarn is very smooth, with the individual strands lying next to each other and the surface reflects more light.  A 4-strand cabled yarn is bumpier and has a pixelated effect.  The colors of the yarn become dots throughout the yarn, and the reflective quality of the yarn is broken up.  Here is a close-up of the yarn texture between 4-ply and 4-strand cable in a knitted sample:

Since I knew I wanted to make a 4-strand cable, I divided my sample into four sections and spun them separately.  I spun the first section on my smallest spindle and decided that it would be a waste of time to wind that small amount of yarn on a bobbin and repeat that four times, so I then spun a short section of white wool to act as a divider between the first and second sections of the colored singles.  Then I wound that single on a bobbin and spun the third and fourth singles with white wool in the middle to divide them.  So I ended up with two bobbins that would allow me to easily ply two singles together:

So if I divided my sections evenly and spun them consistently, I will be able to ply the yarn from the two bobbins together and the white wool in the centers will match up to mark the division between the two 2-ply yarns.  I've spun the first of the singles together and was very happy to see that my approach worked very well:

There was very little overlap of colored yarn to white yarn, and now I'll keep going until the bobbins are empty.  When I wind the 2-ply yarn back on a bobbin, I'll fill the first bobbin until I reach the white wool.  Then I'll break the yarn and wind the next section of colored 2-ply on the second bobbin.  Finally, I'll be able to easily ply those two 2-ply yarns together to create the final 4-strand cabled yarn.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The fortune cookie was right!

Remember back in September, I had a fortune cookie predict that I would receive something nice in the mail?  Well, friends, never never never doubt the power of fortune cookies.  Do not tempt fate by even mocking them. 

When I arrived home from work today, there was a large box by the door, which puzzled me.  What the heck?, I thought.  (Honest, that really was the 4-letter word I used mentally... it was a such tiring day at the office that I didn't even use a more inflammatory 4-letter word as I typically might have.)  I figured my husband must have ordered something, but then I saw the box was addressed to me.  Huh?  What the...?  And then I saw the box was shipped from 13 Mile Lamb & Wool Company and I spontaneously broke out into a big happy dance.  Beautiful wool fleeces had arrived!! 

I dragged the box inside to open it.  The dogs found it pretty fascinating, too, enough to even drop the toy they had been playing with next to the box.  This isn't the best picture, since Maddy moved and is a bit blurry, but you had to see the size of this box!

And here is my loot - over 20 pounds of raw organic fleeces raised in Montana on a predator-friendly ranch.  I love the natural colors - black, white, moorit & grey.  I am in wooly goodness heaven.

Oliver was fascinated by the sheepy fragrance and kept sticking his face in the fleece bags.  Here he is examining the moorit fleece.  He was quite serious about thoroughly performing his quality control work.

I cannot wait to get to work on these fleeces!  Behold the power of wool: my day went from tiring/boring/blah to happy dance/joy/anticipation in mere seconds.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spindle WIPs - Progress with "mixed greens" yarn

I'm making progress on my goal of completing all spindle WIPs before I can start any new yarn!  For my "mixed greens" yarn, I've spun all the singles and tonight I wound them on to bobbins (note there are no overloaded bobbins... I have thoroughly learned that lesson).  While winding the yarn on the bobbins, I noticed my spindle spinning skill has definitely improved in the last few months.  The moss yarn, which was spun in July, might give me a bit of trouble during plying.  While its thickness is consistent, I have better learned how monitor the amount of twist in my singles.  I'm pretty sure there are some under-twisted lengths of yarn in the moss singles, but hopefully it won't fall apart during plying.  We shall see.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Spindle WIPs

I've had a mild attack of project guilt, so I've decided to finish my current spindle WIPs (works-in-progress) before starting any more new yarn.  So I'm taking stock of what I have started and what remains to be done:

"Almost" August challenge (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) yarn
Current status & plan: both singles are spun and need to be wound on bobbins; I plan to use my wheel to create the final 2-ply yarn. 

Next steps: Untangling first single and reloading it on appropriate bobbin; loading 2nd single on bobbin, plying on wheel, then finishing yarn & calculating skein statistics

English Garden wool sample gossamer yarn
Current status & plan: singles are spun; I plan to create a 4-strand cable yarn from this wool sample.

Next steps: Load singles on bobbins, then spin two 2-ply yarns, reload on bobbins and spin final 4-strand cable yarn, then finish yarn & calculate statistics.  Still need to decide if I'll spindle this whole yarn or use my wheel for any of the plying.

Mixed greens yarn
Current status & plan: moss green single is spun and wound into plying ball, mixed green batt single is spun and wound onto bobbin, emerald green single is not yet finished; I plan to create a 3-ply yarn using one strand of each single and will ply the yarn on my wheel

Next steps: finish spinning emerald green single & wind on to bobbin, reload moss yarn on to bobbin, ply singles together, then finishing yarn & calculate statistics