Monday, December 22, 2008

A Fiber Tour: Day 5 - conclusion

I give you, A Brady Bunch of fiber

Multi-color domestic wool roving

Ashford spindle

Blue Steel roving

Natural BFL

Bright blue dyed corriedale

Naturally dyed BFL fiber

Natural merino roving - 1 lb.

first spinning yarn

Natural BFL Fiber

I guess that makes the blue corriedale Alice.

The final stop on our tour is one half (so far) of what will bring this all together. An Ashford drop spindle that was part of my haul from Pancake & Lulu 4 'days' ago.

Ashford spindle

She's a beast, but I'm very happy with my choice. It wasn't until I began to spin with it that I developed an appreciation for spinning thicker yarn. With my Schacht, I'm spinning for an eventual 2-ply fingering weight with the blue steel merino. It's Taking Forever. Spinning for a worsted or bulky weight on the Ashford uses up the fiber more quickly, but it's that much quicker that I get a finished product. I'm way too impatient for this :-)

Also, it may seem obvious, but spinning two different weight singles makes it that much easier to learn the difference between the two. When I first started spinning the multi-color roving that came with it, I was unknowingly spinning nearly the same weight as on my other spindle. It took going back and forth between the two to realize the difference.

The learning process with spinning is a lot of fun, but frustrating for me at the same time. It's hard to find enough time in the day to knit, let alone spin. I'm also being impatient with wanting to see how the finished yarn will look. Eight ounces is a lot of fiber to get through.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Fiber Tour: Day 4

Bright blue dyed corriedale
Bright Blue Corriedale from Hello Yarn

The rest of my birthday money went towards this purchase from Adrian at Hello Yarn. At these great prices, it's a good thing I have some restraint, or I'd buy up every thing she has. I still may.

I absolutely love the bright blue shown above. At $13 for 8 oz., it's a steal at twice the price. She has some dark blue that I'm thinking would look awesome plyed with the bright blue to create a tweed effect. 

Natural BFL Fiber
Natural BFL

Here we have a Full Pound of natural BFL, again from Hello Yarn. Like the natural merino two posts ago, I'll probably experiment with dyeing both before and after spinning. Hopefully I can convince myself that having so much allows for errors, and not stress about waste. This bundle ran me $18, again a great bargain.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Fiber Tour: Day 3

Natural BFL

Naturally dyed BFL fiber

These two little gems I received in my order from Tactile Fiber Arts. I ordered a Schact Hi-Lo drop spindle - my first - and was pleasantly surprised to find two little gifts nestled alongside it. TFA is run by Maia and Brooke, who endeavor to supply knitters with wonderful natural fiber products. All of their dyed fiber is created using all natural products - mostly plants and foods -no chemicals here. The result is lovely, earthy tones.

Both of the above fibers are 2 oz. of Blue Faced Leicester, on the right is a natural brown and the left is a natural white that has been dyed. Unfortunately there were no accompanying labels, so I don't know what gave it the gorgeous orange color. Maia, any ideas?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Fiber Tour: Day 2

Welcome back to day 2 of my little fiber tour.

Today we explore the other (fiber) half of my Pancake and Lulu purchase, some natural merino roving. A whole POUND of it. It's literally crammed into that little bag.

Natural merino roving - 1 lb.
Natural merino roving - 1 lb. from Pancake and Lulu

HO-LY CRAP thisisthesofteststuffihaveeverfelt.

This is some seriously special stuff. It'll probably be the last I spin up of all this fiber I'm showing you. I want to be pretty darn good by the time I dig into it. I do know that I definitely want to play with fiber dyeing, although color ideas escape me at present.

Basically the reason I ended up with a pound of fiber was to use up the rest of the $50 gift card. The spin kit from my last post was $25 and the merino roving was listed at $6.50 for 4 oz. Do the math and I only spent $1 (plus shipping) for a pound and a quarter of fiber and a spindle. Not bad at all.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Fiber Tour: Day 1

Recently, I've come into ownership of quite a bit of fiber. I don't really know how it happened so quickly. I barely have enough time lately to knit, so who knows when all this fiber will get spun up. Not to mention the fact that I only have two spindles and I'm not a fast spinner by any means.

Nevertheless, I thought I would get some use of the fiber by showcasing it here on the blog. You've already seen the Blue Steel from Zarzuela's Fibers, and over the next week or so, I'll show you the rest of my burgeoning stash.

Also, you'll be interested to know that every item on this tour came to me without hardly any money out of pocket.

Multi-color domestic wool roving
Domestic wool roving from Pancake and Lulu

This one took a while to get. I won a $50 gift card to Pancake and Lulu via Stacy's contest back in August. At the time, I didn't think I'd ever get into spinning if I had to spend my own money on it; yarn was way more important. This provided the perfect opportunity to delve into a new craft.

Multi-color domestic wool rovingWhy did it take so long? When I initially got the gift certificate, there were no spin kits in the P&L shop, so I had to wait until Aimee could post one. Then I had to wait until I found one I liked :) The colors are very interesting, quite a range from yellow to red to black to blue. I'm really curious to see: a. how much it will lighten/brighten up when drafted, and b. how the colors will mix once it's plied.

It's only labeled as 'Domestic Wool Roving' so I can't be more specific about the fiber content. It's not the softest stuff I've felt, but it's not real scratchy either. I think one of the hardest parts about spinning for me right now (other than the motivation/time to do it) is trying to decide for what I'll want to use the resulting yarn. That makes it easier to determine what kind of yarn to spin. I've already split it lengthwise into two pieces, and I'm thinking I want to try for a worsted weight yarn. Other than that, all I know at this point is I'll want to use the new spindle that came with it. But that's a post for another day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

FO: Matrix Mittens

Matrix Mittens: outside
Pattern: Matrix
Author: Kerry Palm
Source: Knitty, Winter '07
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Burnt Orange (7824) and Charcoal (8400)
Needles: ChiaoGoo bamboo DPNs size 5 & 6
Started: February 11, 2008
Finished: November 28, 2008
Photographed: November 30, 2008
Modifications: Added a pattern repeat to both sides to fit my man hands, used a tubular cast on, changed cuff to 2x2 ribbing instead of corrugated ribbing, changed thumb gusset pattern to vertical stripes.
Ravel It!

Finally finished these. I started them last winter because I couldn't take using the fingerless gloves I had at the time. I had one mitten finished, but bogged down when I realized the cuff needed to be re-worked. I followed the pattern as written, but the corrugated ribbing didn't pull in enough to suit me. Faced with the prospect of redoing the cuff, I gave up and they languished over the summer.

Matrix Mittens palm detailIt took the onslaught of cold weather for me to pick them back up. I devised a plan to replace the cuff and powered through. Using a tubular cast on, I knit a replacement cuff, removed the offending piece and grafted the new part on. It was surprisingly easy and gave me the needed motivation to finish the pair. The first mitt took me 8 months to finish, the second only a week. Why do I wait so long?!

I was keenly aware of color dominance as I knit these up after discovering it on Grumperina's blog. The only problem was in the long layoff between mitts, I had forgotten which color went where. I knew I wanted the gray to be dominant, but I couldn't remember how to hold the yarns to accomplish that. Instead of looking it up, I stubbornly knit an inch or two into the pattern before realizing I was doing it wrong. You can really see it on the thumb pattern where the gray lines of stitches literally sit higher than the orange lines.

Matrix Mittens detailSpeaking of the thumb, I made two modifications here. The pattern originally called for horizontal stripes on the thumb, which left either long floats while you knit with only one color or catching the yarn several times and you knit around. I wasn't a fan of either - and I like Elli's Herringbone Mittens - so it was an easy switch. I also made the gusset larger to suit my man hands. The only other modification I made was to add a pattern repeat to both side to better fit my hands.

Final verdict: Excellent. They keep the cold out and warm my hands up nicely. The only thing I don't like has more to do with my winter coat than the mittens. The cuffs don't play well with my coat because it has such tight cuffs. Putting them inside my coat sleeves makes for a good seal against the winter wind, but they're a bitch to get off. Outside my coat cuffs, they get stretched out and don't sit right on my hands. I need a new coat.