As a handspinner and knitter, I’m frequently asked how to spin for a sweater and my response is usually, “It depends….”
A clear and concise answer? No. A truthful answer? Yes.
Many factors need to be considered when spinning for a sweater, not the least of which are choosing how much wool you need to spin for your project, how thick or fine you need to spin, and the yarn construction you would like.
When determining the weight of wool to spin for a sweater I always over-estimate the amount needed. Playing yarn chicken is never fun but it can be truly disastrous and disappointing when doing so with handspun. If you run out, you many not be able to get more of that special fibre or that colorway and if, by chance you do, it can be stressful trying to exactly match the spinning. Best to buy a bit extra for peace of mind. Plus, your leftovers can be used for all sorts of fun future projects.
I like to have a specific pattern in mind and choose my materials accordingly. Figure out the weight of yarn required for your intended project in grams according to the pattern details and then tack on an additional 50-100 grams as your buffer. This is usually more than enough fibre by weight to work.
I can get a fairly consistent 2 ply so I will count on that being the typical yarn construction for my sweater spin. If you prefer 3 ply or something else, by all means, spin what feels best for you 😊
When spinning my yarn for a sweater, I like to spin all the singles of a particular color first. I keep track of (and order) my bobbins, often with a small piece of painters tape that I number, and find I get the most consistent finished yarn if I ply bobbins 1 with 3 and 2 with 4. This helps to account for and even out any changes in the spinning process. Doing a ply-back test is also helpful to ensure a spin that is as consistent as possible.
Once your yarn is spun and plyed, give it a good wash to set the twist and it is gauge swatch time!
I hope these little tips are helpful if you are interested in spinning for a sweater. If you have other tried and true tips and tricks that you use for sweater spins, I would love to hear and learn!
A quick little pop in, because it has been quite some time, to share a few photos from yesterday’s hike. I promise to be back with some woolly goodness soon …. Especially since I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my long draw spinning … but more about that at a later date. Today, it is just photos from around Cape Bear, Prince Edward Island.
We’ve been taking full advantage of the nice weather and hitting the local trails. One of our favourites is Cardigan River Trails.
Cardigan River Trails are situated behind the ball diamonds west of Cardigan. It is a picturesque wooded area that hosts a wide variety of bird and plant species. Pictures above is an empty Robin’s egg shell we found along the trail.
Along with being treated to birdsong, there is also evidence of bird activity such as these holes made by a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.
We took a newish section of trail that leads directly down to the river and loops back. It has a beautiful boardwalk through the wet sections. In just a few weeks, this section will be brilliant with bright purplish-pink Rhodora blossoms.
We also get treated to these water views.
Along the way there were still quite a few Mayflower blossoms. They have since bloomed and disappeared on many of our usual trails but here they are still hanging in!
The Eastern Tamarack are starting to grow back their needles.
We found a little sunny spot along this section of trail.
This stand of pines looks a little dark and foreboding but is still a pleasure to walk through. The smell of the pines is delightful.
And last little snippet from our hike is this photo of the Serviceberry blossoms. These are so beautiful and they turn into such a delicious treat when they’re in fruit. You just have to be faster than the birds to snag a taste!
I hope you enjoy this little peek into our hike. If you happen to be in Cardigan, I highly recommend checking out the trail!
I have so many spinny things to share since I’ve last posted!
First up is this lovely basket pictured above. It is a basket created by the wonderful Doris-Ann of Savoie Baskets just with drop spindle spinning in mind.
As with all of her baskets, it is beautifully crafted. This style features a strap so you and wear the basket while spinning and it keeps your fibre perfectly within reach. Another wonderful feature is a loop for securing your spindle. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this creation and I am so grateful that she asked me to test it. I will be getting A LOT of use from this! I highly recommend you check out her work!
I am planning to do a video feature of spinning with the basket but our weather has not been cooperating …. It is cold and windy and it snowed again last night/this morning. So keep a lookout in the near future to see the basket in action!
Next up is a long-ish term project that I’ve finished spinning.
My son and I gathered acorns last Autumn and I used them to create a natural dye for some merino combed top. While the color is very beautiful, I got a bit distracted during the dyeing process and the wool accidentally boiled a bit. Oops! Luckily, it didn’t get too felted and was still salvageable.
While it WAS spinnable, it was not the most pleasant spin I’ve encountered. Because of the slight felting, I really had to work in places at drafting so it made my hands tired and sore. With a bit of patience and spinning in fits and starts I completed the spinning and I’m very happy with the finished yarn. It is soft and bouncy and the color is that of a rich linen. It was totally worth the extra effort.
Another recently complete spinning project is my Ottawa Wool Board sampler. It was a 4oz bag of unnamed wool in three different natural colors. I chose to spin up each color individually as a two ply with the intention to use it for a colorwork project.
I really enjoyed spinning this wool and may just have to pick up another bag 😉
And last but not least is the result of a fun fibre swap with @mellyknits on Instagram.
We mailed each other some Shetland wool that was locally grown to each of us respectively. I received some ultra dreamy cream colored wool from a ewe named Morning Glory. How cool is that?
I chose to spin it up as a Laceweight single and ended up getting 633 yards from 100g. Not too shabby even if I do say so myself! I had a pattern picked out but just need to clear the knitting decks so that I can start. Crafter problems, am I right?
I have since ordered some Romney wool from Melissa and she send along a little treat for me to try, which I immediately started on spinning. I have to say that Melissa’s care and attention to each bump of fibre and all her prep make spinning her fibres such a pleasure. So if you are a spinner too, I highly recommend!
And lastly, I am teaching a drop spindle spinning basics workshop at the PEI Fibre Festival in September. Tickets are only available to Fibre Fest newsletter subscribers right now but will be available to the public tomorrow, April 25th. I’ve been told that the class is almost sold out already!
That is all for now. I’m planning to spend the day working of sweater sleeves in an effort too ok finish up a birthday sweater for a certain someone. Wish me luck!
Even though it is now officially Spring, I still want to keep on knitting all the cozy knits. I’ve been seeing swoon worthy sweaters, adorable socks, and luscious fibres on podcasts and Instagram and I can’t help but feel completely inspired. My to-knit list is becoming quite long indeed!
I have a few sweater WIPs that I’m working on right now, a pair of socks, and some spinning.
First up is Goldwing by Jennifer Steingass. While I’ve been pretty good at knitting from my stash for a lot of projects this year, I couldn’t resist picking up some of this lovely blue tweed yarn from Belfast Mini Mills. The color was absolutely perfect for my youngest and it has been a while since I’ve knit her a sweater.
The pattern is very straightforward and clearly written (as are all of the Jennifer Steingass patterns I’ve used) and it knits up very quickly. As is usual, when I knit top down sweaters, I opted for a tubular bind off because I prefer that type of edge on sweaters. Now I just need to get cracking on the sleeves!
Next up is a knit with a good friend. We decided that we would both knit Sun in Setesdal by Sidsel J Høivik.
I am using the called for yarn for this project and really enjoying it. It is my first time knitting with Hillesvåg yarn and it certainly won’t be my last. It is a lovely, rustic wool that knits up into a very nice fabric. Also, this TOTALLY counts as using stash because yarn because I’ve has it since late 2021, right? 😉
It is knit from the bottom up and I’ve completed up to the under arms and have cast on the steek stitches and knit a few rounds. Even though it is knit on 2.75mm needles, it is knitting up quickly because I want to knit “just one more round” each tim I work on it. Plus, the sunny yellow is just such a happy color to work with!
The last knitting project I have to share with you today (I actually have one more sweater project but I haven’t taken any photos of it yet) is a cozy pair of wool socks.
I’m almost finished the first sock and am very much loving how they are working up. They also fit into several of my crafty goals for this year. I’ve committed to knitting myself more handmade wool socks because they feel the best on my feet and I don’t get blisters from walking around wearing them in my boots and shoes. I spend a lot of my time on my feet and walking both at work and at play each day so comfy feet are important. Another massive win for wool in my books!
And last project (but not least!) for today is some spinning!
I did a Shetland Swap with Melly Knits and I’ve been spinning it up. This is 100 grams of Shetland wool from a ewe named Morning Glory who is local to Melissa. How cool is that? I even get to know the steep’s name!
I’ve opted to spin this as a heavy-ish Laceweight single with the intention of knitting a Flukra by Gudrun Johnston. I’m getting sooooo close to finishing the spinning. Fingers crossed 🤞 I will be finished this weekend because I’m very excited to see how it knits up. If it knits up anything like it spins, it will be a really treat!
That is all the crafty news I have time for today. I hope you have a wonderful day wherever you may be abs that you find some quiet time for crafting too 💗
One of my favourite things to do on days off is hike one of the many wonderful trails we have here in Prince Edward Island.
Today I chose to do Selkirk Forest. It is one of the shorter trails (only approximately 5kms) but it is quite varied in scenery and the types of forest. You travel through groves of birch, beech, hemlock, and pine with lots of mixed sections as well.
Another beautiful feature along the trail is the water. The humble beginnings of the Montague River is all the way out here in Valley.
While I didn’t need snowshoes today, I was very glad that I wore my ice cleats. The trail was mostly hard packed icy snow with soft patches where the trail receives the most sunshine during the day. I *might* have fallen through the ice crust in a few places.
One of the best things about todays hike was the mild weather. I wore a very light padded lumberjack coat and was plenty cozy. I even tucked my mittens into my pack after I got going.
What are your favourite activities for days off? Do you enjoy hiking as well? I’d love to hear.
Although it was quite cold this morning, we hiked out to the beach to catch the sunrise. I don’t have many words to share other than I never tire of these views and I’m so grateful that I get to enjoy them.
I hope that these photos bring some brightness and lightness of heart to your day.
Gotland sheep wool is one of my favourite fibres to spin and knit. I don’t get to work with it nearly as much as I would like. The lustre and the silvery greys are exceptional. Those qualities are lovely on their own but when over-dyed , something truly magical happens.
Vibrant colors deepen, become richer and more jewel-like, and almost glow.
Gotland wool really has an opportunity to shine when spun in a worsted manner. Smoothing the fibres and a short forward draw bring out the gloss and sheen which comes naturally with this wool. Plus, it makes for perfect handspun for knitting socks!
I chose to spin my fibre as a 2 ply fractal to get the most fun out of the colors. I’m pretty happy with the finished yarn. Fractals are just such fetching yarns!
The sock pattern is very simple sock using 60 stitches and 2.25mm needles. The heel is the Slightly Modified Garter Stitch Edged Eye of Partridge Heel (that name is a mouthful!) which I borrowed from Hermione’s Everyday Sock pattern.
Instead of transitioning abruptly from one color to the next for the toe I added in just a touch of colorwork to soften the edge.
The finished socks are so silky, soft, and cozy. I can’t wait to start wearing them!
Do you knit your own socks? Do you spin for your own socks? What are your favourite wool breeds and why? I’d love to hear!
I have been a busy little bee working away on a few hand knits since I last posted about November projects.
I have completed my Lunenburg Pullover by Savory Knitting and I has become a fast favourite of mine.
I used the called for yarn, Lichen and Lace Rustic Heather Sport, and I fell completely in love. The yarn is milled by Briggs and Little but dyed by Lichen in lace in the most delight shades. The pattern calls for Charcoal, Shrub, Birch, Pollen, and Sky and they worked so perfectly together that I didn’t deviate. While it is on the rustic sides, as the yarn name states, the knitted fabric is squishy, bouncy, airy, and still sturdy. It is such a pleasure to both knit with and wear that I’ve already planned another sweater knit for more in the future. But I digress…
The pullover pattern was a very speedy and satisfying knit. The colorwork yoke worked up like magic and kept me wanting to knit “just one more round”. Recently, I learned to work the Norwegian purling method and that came in very handy. I am a two handed colorwork knitter and with the use of this method the colorwork (purls and all) just flowed.
I have also finished my Aito Shawl by Melody Hoffman The pattern was simple, straightforward, and very well written and it was a very pleasing knit. It worked up quite quickly and the lace sections were easily memorized. In my books, a very fulfilling project!
Instead if using Plotülopi as the pattern suggested, I opted for Briggs and Little Country Roving because we had a great supply of it at the shop and I wanted to try out a fun project with it. It did require some prepping as it is wound into cakes with 5 strands held gently together together but I separated it out into a huge ball of singles and knit away. The yarn is feather light, bouncy, and quite soft. Plus, when knit up it is very warm … exactly the qualities you want in a woollen shawl. I love to toss it around my shoulders while knitting and relaxing at home.
My last finished project to share today (before moving on to a couple of works in progress) was a test knit for an amazing new Newfoundland designer I stumbled across on Instagram …. Heather Nolan aka Oileánach Knits.
The pattern is the Foraois Hat, which is now available to download through her Ravelry page, and was a very quick knit! It called for bulky weight yarn and luckily, I had a ball of both Fleece and Harmony’s Heatherdale Lopi and a ball of Alafosslopi in my stash. The finished hat had a doubled brim and as such is very warm. It is a fantastic hat for hiking in winter!
Speaking of stash, I found out through Laura of Louis and Jane that haberdashery on Instagram has suggested a Makers Dozen for 2022. The premise of the initiative is to use either stashed yarn to complete 12 new projects this year or to pull out twelve old works in progress that have been languishing and finish them (or any combo there of) and I jumped right in. This fits in perfectly with my crafty goals for the year and the Foraois Hat is the first project completed toward my dozen.
Another project that I have underway that fits well within the Maker’s Dozen parameters is my La Manche by the lovely Jennifer Beale. I knew when I saw this pattern that this was a must knit for me. I had some Island Collection Worsted in my stash which worked perfectly.
I had originally purchased the yarn for another pattern but when I knit the swatch the colors and original pattern were just not what I was going for. You ever have that happen? Fortunately, they look lovely knit up here.
I’m speeding right along with this project and am very much looking forward to wearing the finished cardigan!
And last project to share about today is my Gotland socks. This is another Maker’s Dozen project AND it fits with the Natural Sock-along and Rustic Knitalong and I’m also participating in. All three are year long “alongs” so there is plenty of opportunity to experiment and play.
I am using some Gotland fibre I hand dyed and then handspun as the main portion of the sock and some leftover Fleece and Harmony Point Prim Sock. The socks are going to be soooo nice to wear when they’re finished!
The pattern is pretty basic and I opted for the modified Eye of Partridge heel from Hermione’s Everyday Sock and a teeny bit of colorwork on the foot section.
Well, that’s it for me for now! How about you? What are you working on now? Are you participating in any “alongs” this year? I’d love to hear.