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Knitting, Spindling and Playing with Fleece

November 27, 2011

(… welcome to our new home.  Not sure how much action there will be here, but at least we aren’t going to be forcing Liz to pay hosting fees for us anymore!)

Jan here–Welcome to the new KnitMe home!

I am going to start my posts off  by giving you a galloping run-through of my knitting year. Mostly it was about pushing boundaries and learning new things.

This spring I did some…um…educational knitting.

I am not a sweater knitter. So I started the year by knitting the wonderful Burnside Vest. There are so many sizes in the directions that it was easy to convert the DK pattern to Lambs Pride worsted in Sandy Heather (right). I promptly learned how much a heavy, softly spun singles in a dense fisherman’s stitch pattern, knitted at the recommended ball band gauge, can grow… and grow.

So I reknitted, same yarn (in Golden Oak) and same pattern conversion, but using needles two sizes smaller than the ball band recommendation. The red sweater is my everyday comfortable turtleneck. The negative ease gives the vest a pleasant body hugging fit, and the gorgeous gansey pattern pops.

After making knitting progress, I pushed my spinning horizons.

I worked the exercises in the Fine Spinning Workbook  by Liz Lovick. I spun Romney roving dyed by a local indie dyer. I figured it was high time I learned park & draft, and I spun and plied the singles with some of my beautiful  Bosworth  spindles.

After several sessions of  being a tense and overthinking klutz,  I relaxed (score a major lesson from the workbook!), and found that I too, could spin a variety of thicknesses.

Handspun Romney various thickness

From cushy fat…


Cushy fat Romney

To fair-to-middlin’ midweight…

Fair to middling skinny

To some really, Really, REALLY  skinny singles…

Skinny Romney singles

…which I have not yet mustered the nerve to ply, because she who plies it will have to knit it. Someday.

Next I put my new skills to work for the 2011 Tour de Fleece.

Since the hardest thing for me to learn from the workbook exercies had been to spin a thick singles,  I decided to spin fat yarn from skinny yarn fiber for the Tour. My fiber was Brown Sheep 100% wool Mill Ends from Detta’s Spindle, and again I used my spindles. The wool is very fine, perfect for laceweight, but but a challenge to spin thick and still retain softness. My smooth-spinning Bossies helped a lot. I made…

Singles for a marled yarn…

…and a heathered 2-ply yarn from a more thoroughly color-blended section of the roving.

It worked! I can do it! I will go back to the workbook and focus on the fine spinning another day. Meanwhile…

The payoff is:  A cushy handspun hat and neckscarf.

I knitted them in two days in December, using the Design Your Own Hats pattern available from Northern Lace’s Ravelry store. Bring on the cold! I am going to love wearing this.

Hat and scarf from TdF handspun

In addition to knitting, I played with fleece.

This summer I washed several fleeces of new-to-me sheep  breeds. The transformation from more or less grimy outdoor animal coat to shining wool is always amazing, but by far the most ethereal  was the Jacob lamb from Lazy Pi Farm. I laid out the intact fleece on the kitchen floor, and kept the  locks in strict order as I washed and dried them. The delicate lamb curls, the subtle shifting colors, and the translucent glow make this fleece a piece of art. It needs no embellishment.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2011 1:28 pm

    Gorgeous work! And lovely, lovely locks!!!

  2. Sam permalink
    November 28, 2011 9:15 pm

    I would love to hear more about those breeds! What’s in the box? As ever, the spinning is simply gorgeous!

  3. November 29, 2011 11:00 am

    Such yummy wool…is it Shetland?

  4. December 17, 2011 6:48 am

    Your spinning is BEAUTIFUL ! and I love your hat !!! That is the most beautiful Jacob fleece too.

  5. January 1, 2012 12:21 pm

    from top to bottom, a beautiful post – your spinning is awesome! and the Jacob fleece is just lovely. 🙂

  6. February 2, 2012 6:10 am

    Just gorgeous eye candy! Thanks for sharing!

  7. May 16, 2012 8:09 pm

    I had to revisit your post! It so wonderful, and INSPIRING !!!

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