A quick shot of the progress made with yesterday’s storm day knitting. It has been a while since I’ve used bulky weight yarn and 6mm needles so this sweater really seems to be flying. It would be wonderful to have this lopi finished by the end of the month!
Over the past year, I’ve been working on my woolen spinning and, with my 2lbs 3oz of local wool all spun up (yay!), I have accumulated enough to knit a lopi sweater. I did some mixing and matching up of my woolen handspuns this afternoon and have come up with a color combo that I am quite pleased with. Both dark grey and light grey are the gorgeous local fiber, the white is a border leicester and the gold colored, a romney/corrie cross that I picked up from Spunky Eclectic, and the blue is a beautiful wool/bamboo/mohair/soy silk blend that I picked up from Art Club.
I have yet to pick a pattern but I’m leaning heavily towards one in my vintage Reynolds Lopi Volume. 78 and the pattern Karlakór in particular. There are just so many lovely patterns to choose from! I still have a couple of projects to finish up first so I still have some time to decide.
Hope you’re all enjoying your week so far, and happy crafting!
January is starting with a bang in the fiber world. Lots of really amazing KALs and SALs happening and Ravelry groups are ripe with challenges to hone your skills, learn new techniques, and to bust those knitting and spinning stashes. How can you not feel inspired with the enthusiasm and verve shown by fellow crafters!
Last night, after checking out some awesome spins by fellow ravely members, I got out my wheel and finished up spinning my bump of amazing polwarth in the “November” colorway by Spunky Eclectic. I didn’t spin with any SAL or challenge in mind, it was just spun for the sheer delight of it. Spun up as a DK weight fractal 2 ply, it is soft, fluffy, and very bouncy. I love, love, love both the colorway and the fiber itself.
Since I was in a good groove last evening, I got started on my first challenge for the year … the woolen challenge in the Spunky Eclectic ravelry group. I got out my 2lb 3oz bag of gorgeous locally sourced organic shetland/border leicester cross fiber and didn’t stop spinning until THE ENTIRE BAG was spun up into singles. I also plyed my first skein, to boot! Eventually, I am planning to use this handspun for a nice lopi sweater from on of my vintage pattern books. I have some really nice cream, blue, and yellow woolen-spun handspuns in my stash that might look good as accent colors.
Sooooo, I *might* have been on a bit of a spinning binge last night but it sure felt good.
What kinds of crafty things are you up to so far in 2014? Did you join any groups or challenges?
I enjoyed last year’s spinning challenge of 12 lbs in 2012 so much that I decided to join up with the 13 lbs in 2013. And I’ve got a bangin’ start to this year’s spinning.
My first spin for January was 4oz of rambouillet in “Posturing” colorway by Hello Yarn. It was my first time spinning both rambouillet and Hello Yarn fiber and it was such a treat! The fiber is soft and fluffy and very much like merino and polwarth and the colors are bright and cheery. I chose to spin this as an navajo plied fingering weight yarn as I plan to knit some really awesome socks!
Next up was 4oz of BFL/Silk in “Le Tigre” colorway by Northbound Knitting. I LOVE the drapey hand to singles spun from this fiber, and the colorway is to die for! I chose to spin up this bump as fingering weight singles as I think it will look really wonderful knit up into a shawl … probably another Stephen West shawl
Next was my second bump of October Club … 4oz of superwash merino in “Summer’s End” by Spunky Eclectic. This was a progression dye I chose to spin it as another navajo plied fingering weight yarn as it will make really awesome socks. I mean, look at Spinnydread’s Summer’s End Socks … they’re freaking beautiful!
My last spin for the month was 4oz of border leicester locks which I carded up into rolags and spun woolen as a bulky weight 2 ply. The more that I play with carded fiber and long draw, the more I’m loving the whole woolen process. I’m not really sure what this yarn will be but I’ve got a few ideas percolating.
January’s total was 16oz or 1lb of fiber spun and I’m already working on some really lovely spins for February.
What have you been working on lately? Do you have spinning, knitting, or crochet goals you are working toward? I’d love to hear all about them!
Today’s Tips and Tricks Thursday post is all about spinning semi-woolen yarn. This is another style of spinning that I am still working hard to learn. It is defined as semi-woolen because it uses the traditional worsted prep of combed top but uses woolen style spinning techniques. A wide variety of spinning is covered by the “semi-woolen” umbrella but some of the key points are:
- Uses combed top for fiber prep
- Twist enters the web or the fiber between your hands
- Uses a forward draft
The fibers in the combed top are usually (but not always) shorter fibers such as angora rabbit, yak, camel, or a blend. This list is not inclusive … there are tons more short fibers that are used for woolen and semi-woolen spinning. The key determinant in defining semi-woolen spinning is that the spinner uses combed top in conjunction with a long draw to draft the fibers to produce a lovely soft and fuzzy yarn.
The drafting technique for semi-woolen is very much like that of the woolen long draw with the main exception being that the forward hand pulls the fiber gently towards the orifice, leaving the back hand in place, as opposed to the back hand doing most of the work in true woolen style. With my experiments with semi-woolen spinning I have found it very useful to try and keep a distance of approximately 6 inches between my hands and to frequently fully release the fiber from my forward hand. This helps to keep me from reverting to my almost instinctual short draw for worsted spinning.
Another key element of successful semi-woolen spinning is that it tends still to be under spun and over plied. This aids in giving the lofty and fluffy appearance and more bounce to the finished yarn than is seen in traditional worsted or semi-worsted spinning.
Recommended finishing techniques for semi-woolen yarns are to wash in hot soapy water, plunge into cold water to rinse and give the skein a good whack on the back of a chair to “fluff” the yarn, then hang to dry.
For those of you who are visual learners like me, I’ve included a short video by InspirationFibers that demonstrates the difference in technique from true worsted spinning to semi-woolen spinning and it only requires a change in the motion of the hands:
I hope that this encourages you to try something fun and new with your spinning and I’ll see you all tomorrow for FO Friday!
In the previous Tips And Tricks Thursday posts, I shared some great videos by others and info on how to get you started spinning. Starting with today’s post, I thought we would get a little bit more nitty gritty. Did you know that there are four different types/styles of spinning? I’m sure that there are actually more because each spinner has their own style, but MOST fall into four categories:
Over the next four Tips and Tricks Thursday post, we’ll be diving into these, starting today with worsted.
The definition of worsted spinning, according to Lee Juvan in her Knitty.com article “Worsted Yarns and Worsted Spinning”, is “a yarn spun from parallel fibers that have been combed (not carded) to remove shorter bits and spun with a short draw to keep the fibers in their parallel alignment.” Another key feature of this style of spinning as noted by Judith MacKenzie in “A Spinner’s Toolbox” is that the twist doesn’t enter the web. So as you are spinning, the twist never travels past your forward hand into the fiber. To be really technical, the twist never enters the drafting triangle or the fiber between your hands.
I found a really lovely video demonstration of worsted spinning by ruthmacgregor on youtube, which show these principles in action:
This is my favorite way of spinning or drafting technique because it is the first way that I learned so it is the method that I am most comfortable with. The key points to keep in mind are:
- use combed top for your fiber preparation
- use a short forward or backward drafting motions
- no twist should enter the fiber between your hands
Worsted spun (not to be confused with worsted weight) yarns tend to be very smooth and dense and show off the luster of the fiber. They are not especially stretchy or springy but they do tend to be harder wearing. This type of spinning is ideal if your are planning to knit socks from your handspun.
For anyone who enjoys reading, especially about history and textiles, I’ve found a very interesting book available for online reading titled “Principles of Worsted Spinning” by Howard Priestman. Written in 1906, this book explains the history of worsted spinning and the ins and outs of homespun and commercial spinning. It covers just about everything your might want to know about this type of spinning in its 354 pages.
So if this spinning method is new to you I encourage you to try it out!