Weaving Wonderment

I knew it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to yet another fiber art adventure. Mae and I bought a Zoom Loom today to give it a go. We both found it fun, quick and easy… And sure to become a new addiction. Mae’s planning to make a blanket for her Pixie doll:



And I wonder what I should do with my first handspun square?



The possibilities are endless…

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Lupo the Lamb

My first ever “straight-from-the-lamb” project is done! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out:

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

Seems a little silly that I did all that wool processing only to turn it back into a lamb. 😉 I ran out of white yarn toward the end, and had to make some more… learning from that process that I overplied the first batch. The second was much softer and lighter. The brown wool seemed easier and more consistent to spin over all. Not quite as fine, but still very soft, and I adore the color variations, with bits of red and grey highlights. And since my hand-spinning is nowhere near as consistent in weight as commercial yarn, he’s not completely symmetrical, ie. the arms and feet are slightly different sizes. But I think that lends him a bit of extra hand-made charm (I think). I also stuffed him with the wool (each color matching) which helped with show-through issues, and he’s delightfully huggable as a result.

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

I’m definitely in love with Lalylala designs even more now. It took longer than other crochet animals I’ve made, with its smaller, tighter gauge, but that also gives it a smoother look, and there are little subtle touches that made the pattern very special, especially the shaping of the hands and feet.

He also turned out a little bigger than the pattern’s specified 10″. He’s around 14″, since my yarn was a little heavier than sock weight. I also used a bigger hook (2.5mm), and bigger eyes (9mm instead of 6mm).

The kids and I really want to keep him, but I’m going to send him back “home” as a thank you to the people who gave me the fleeces. I’ll probably have to make another one to live with us eventually. Lord knows I have enough wool left over. 🙂 But first I need to take a break from crochet. I’m dying to knit something, and also to see how this wool spins up woolen, and into something wearable. Stay tuned…

Soothing Surprise

After my rough week losing Cleo, I feel like I won the lottery today! Brace yourself for an interesting family connection: My Aunt called last week to tell me that my cousin’s wife’s sister has a small flock of sheep, and doesn’t know what to do with the fleeces. My Aunt told her about my spinning, and she offered to GIVE them to me! So today I received my first “sample” in the mail: 2 gorgeous Romney lamb fleeces, one white and one black (9 lbs. of wool!).

black and white romney lamb fleeces

I was so excited, I couldn’t even wait to wash them… I had to spin up a couple of locks “in the grease”. I just carded them up and spun them with a woolen long draw, which was crazy easy, since the staple is so long. The lanolin on the wool probably helped too, and now my hands feel SO soft. Here’s my first little test skein. It’s so soft and light and dreamy!

romney lamb handspun woolen yarn

Now I’m going to do more experimenting with processing and spinning techniques for this. First I’m washing some of it in just cold water to make it a little cleaner, but keep the grease, and some in soapy hot water to remove the grease… I wonder which I’ll like working with better? Then I think I’ll try combing some and spinning it worsted, as well as more carded woolen.

Then I really need to make something(s) amazing with all this loveliness! Starting with something special for the giver. 😉

 

rainbow fish cuffs

I finished knitting the Crofton cuffs from my handspun 15.5 micron merino yarn. I ended up working the pattern backwards, because I knew I wanted the blue-green yarn to be on the cuff part, and that was the only way I could assure that it worked out that way. I also knit quite a few extra rows throughout, since i have enormous hands, and I wanted them to fit me, well, like a glove. I really love them, but I must admit that they look a bit like rainbow fish, both because of the color gradient and the seedstitch “scales”, and I’m not sure how I feel about that:

handspun, knit rainbow crofton cuffs

And the fishy lookalike:

520_Boesemani_Rainbowfish_Melanotaenia_boesemani.e

However, this merino is SO devinely soft, especially on the stockinette portion covering my hands, and I’m really craving a sweater that looks and feels just like this:

sweater-cuff

But spinning that much yarn, and making the color changes come out so well, especially across 2 sleeves, feels pretty daunting. Not to mention the fact that I have yet to knit an adult sweater. But, oh, I want one so very much. You just have to feel this yarn to know what I mean. It’s like smooshy, fluffy velvet. Maybe I should do a poncho with a turtleneck instead? That would be less ambitious, and I wouldn’t have to worry about color changes.

new spinning territory

I’ve ventured into new spinning territory on 2 recent projects. The first was a challenge to myself to spin it as finely as I could, for my weaving friend who also likes to dye her own yarn. I used superwash merino and I even spun it traditionally worsted… no predrafting… using a forward short draw drafting method. The result was about 250 yards of 2-ply yarn, somewhere between lace and fingering weight. I’m quite proud of it, but it felt like it took forever. I stretched out the process over a couple of weeks, because my fingers would get quickly tired of holding back such thin singles.

handspun fingering superwash merino yarn

As soon as I got it off the wheel, I moved right into a treat for myself that I’ve been very impatient to start spinning… some hand-painted Australian merino from Woolgatherings that my sweet Papa gave me for Christmas. He’s been reading my blog, so he knew EXACTLY what I would like. 😉 I don’t know if it’s because I was more excited about the fiber, or if it was more interesting to spin because I couldn’t wait to see how the colors turned out, or if it’s because I’m realizing that I just enjoy spinning thicker yarn more, but this took me less than two days. I decided to leave it as single-ply, another first, so that also cut the time in half, and I spun it mostly with a short backward draw. I felted it a bit on purpose during washing it, since I heard that will help give singles more strength. The result was about 210 yards of DK/Worsted weight, which I can’t wait to knit into these Crofton cuffs for myself. I like the version with the seed stitch tops, and I’m excited to see how they will stripe.

single-handspun-austalian-merino

Now, for a little small talk about the weather: We were the lucky recipients of a layer of freezing rain on top of our 5 inches of snow last night, and it’s like an ice-skating rink out there. No snow play for the kids today I’m afraid. THEY are telling us it will start to melt this afternoon, and then we’ll have constant rain in our foreseeable future… so we are getting very nervous about flooding. But at least the chickens will be happy to come out of hibernation. They’ve got to be getting stir crazy up there in their coop. But they are still laying eggs for us, so I guess they can’t be too miserable. Sweet little chooks.

frozen-snow

spinning wheel progress report

My lovely Louet and I are definitely starting to get to know each other better. My attempts over the last few days have been gradually improving, and I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable. Many thanks to all of my wonderful readers for your encouragement and advice!!! Most notably, the advice from Empress Fibers to practice treadling without fiber until I feel more comfortable stopping and starting has been VERY helpful. While I was doing this, I realized something about my wheel that I’m not sure was intentional (probably), but the big hole in it helps me to quickly see which foot to use to start up again in a clockwise direction. If it’s on the right when I stop, I use my right foot, and on the left, my left foot. Clever. And the advice from ilikecolors has been invaluable as well. She recommended drafting backwards at first… as far as my hands will go while gradually letting in twist before allowing the wheel to take up that length. This feels more like using my spindle, and I can more easily see what kind of twist I’m putting in. I also found two really great books at the library that have been very helpful, as well as fun to look at: The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn by Brenda Gibson and Spin Control by Amy King. These are full of knowledge about fiber and different spinning techniques, and I learned from them that the easiest way for me to draft right now is from the fold, tearing off a chunk of fiber, wrapping it around my left index finger, teasing out a tiny bit (the amount I want to draft) from one side, and going from there.

spinning from the fold

I feel more control over how much I’m drafting this way, and it will produce a semi-worsted yarn… not quite so heavy in tightly knitted garments. I also hear this is a great way to spin fine slippery fibers… which I plan to do a lot of. 😉

So, all of this is starting to result in better looking singles… I think. Once I feel a little more comfortable, and fill up 2 bobbins, I will try plying it.

spinning wheel single learning

Angelic Angora

I could no longer keep myself from the angora in my luxury sample pack. The fiber itself is incredibly soft and sleek with an angelic halo. It has a longer staple length than cashmere and it spins very gracefully. But you don’t really want to bury your face in this one (unless you like breathing hair) while you are working with it. I remember breathing in a lot of the tickly, tiny hairs when I’ve knitted with it in the past as well. They are so light and fluffy, they just want to fly around like tiny angels! But once the finished piece has been washed and worn a few times, and the hairs have decided to reside peacefully in your knitted piece… bury away! One of my favorite garments I’ve ever made is an angora cowl. I basically leave it around my neck all winter long… it’s stood the test of time. It’s so soft, silky and breathable, not itchy at all, and many times warmer than wool. I wrap it around my face when I go out on a cold day for instant insulation, like a bunny burrowing under her mama rabbit. And it’s so light, I’d hardly know it is there, were it not for it’s soft, warm embrace… an angelic presence enfolding me.

Here’s my single:

angora single on a drop spindle

And 2-ply:

angora 2-ply on a drop spindle

angora 2-ply on a drop spindle

And washed & thwacked (very important for the halo to properly bloom, and to remove some of the loose hairs):

handspun angora yarn

I can’t wait to make something with it. Maybe a new cowl? Or a hat? Or mittens? The possibilities are endless, but it definitely needs to be touching my bare skin somewhere. 🙂