Spinning things

I’m now just over halfway through spinning the singles for the warp of the redleaf wrap – the picture is the first batch of singles and the fibre for the second batch, both about 100g; the yarn is very fine worsted, and from some guesses at its weight I’m hoping that 200g of two-ply will be enough. If not, I have plenty more of the fibre so will just spin some more to make up the shortfall. It’s really boring spinning, so it’s useful to have a deadline to aim for – next weekend I have a crafting date with S, B and G, and I’m hoping to have finished spinning all the yarn for the wrap, and have warped up the loom before then so I can take weaving with me, and let the others play with the wheel while I show off the loom :-)

I estimate that it took me about 10 hours to spin the first 100g, so it should be possible to finish up, especially since R is away for part of this week, so I won’t have to choose between spinning and hanging out with him!

This has made me think seriously about ordering the lace flyer kit forthe wheel, because it’s slower going than it should be simply because Ican’t treadle fast enough – smaller whorls would make that much easier. And I think I will be spinning more very fine yarn… The picture to the left is a tiny piece of a lovely eight-ply double-cabled yarn I spun just now from a wisp of leftover purple merino, to add to the current handspun-oddball-in-progress. I spun it on a spindle as very fine singles, and then plied it twice, and it’s gorgeous.

The redleaf sampling left me with some bits and pieces of leftovers of the yarn I used in it, which has reminded me of the current handspun oddball (left). That’s redleaf-plied-with-burgundy over most of its surface, and the bit of purple yarn from above with the free end. And in between the strands of red, you can catch glimpses of some of the other layers hidden below. I’ve no idea now what’s in it, and am looking forward to winding it into a skein to find out…

…And the fact that this oddball is almost ready to be wound into a skein to join the others reminded me of my bags of leftover bits of fibre (right). The big pile of pink in the top left is an early attempt at hand-carding leftovers. It’s a bit of a mess, though, so I’ll probably put it through the drum carder to tidy it up a bit, and then maybe there’s enough of it to do something with, perhaps especially if I also tone the colour down by carding it with the grey Shetland that’s at mid-right in the picture. The rest, including the pinkish-grey alpaca at top right, I’m probably going to spindle-spin into bits and pieces to add to the oddball and hasten its journey skein-wards.

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Sampling red leaf

The colour match is better in the photo to the left – the woven piece is the same as the one on the loom in my previous post. The mini skein of yarn is one ply of burgundy merino and one of the red leaf fibre, about 2.5m/g, spun up for the second sample…

…Which is the larger piece in the photo to the right, with the two ply in both warp and weft, woven at 7.5dpi. I like the first sample more – the finer texture feels nicer and drapes better, and I prefer how the colours play out with the red leaf just in the weft.

So now I have a decision, I can get on with spinning the rest of it!

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(I need to mess around with the settings on my camera to try and get better reds – these colours are off too.)

I’ve spent today spinning and then weaving a sample for the red leaf wrap. This is 12.5dpi, with the warp very fine two-ply burgundy merino worsted, and the weft red leaf woolen singles at about 5m/g. The sample is just long enough to go round my wrist, so that’s where I’m wearing it, and very pretty it is too.

Next up, spinning some of the burgundy at about 5m/g woolen to ply with the rest of the red leaf sample yarn and then weave at 7.5dpi with that in both warp and weft.

(Note for non-spinners: worsted-spun yarn is denser, smoother and stronger; woolen-spun yarn is loftier, warmer and softer.)

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Sekrit project number one (and an update on the red cardigan)

The first sekrit project is what many partners of knitters will have been given today, the heart from Knitty. This was loads of fun to knit, and small enough that R didn’t even notice that for a couple of evenings, every time he looked in my direction, my hand ‘happened to’ cover what I was knitting. The yarns are Dream in Colour Smooshy in dark red, and Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Valentine – luxury sock yarns for a luxury heart :-)

And I’m continuing to make progress on the red cardigan, which now just hits my hips, although there’s a way to go still on the body. The current plan is to knit to the minimum acceptable body length, and then switch to the sleeves, then switch back to the body to keep knitting until I run out of yarn.

(My mirror is now slightly cleaner than it was last time, but I can’t figure out how to get it not to smear.)

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Red leaf spinning

Since writing the last entry, I have spun this:

That’s batch five of the red leaf fibre, and the last one for the time being. I’m now at about 1,000m, so I’m going to stop spinning the red leaf and start spinning some of this:

Current plan is that this burgundy merino will be the warp to the red leaf’s weft, although it’s possible I’ll ply the two together and use as both warp and weft. This option is actually starting to look quite appealing – it’ll make the yarn thicker, so I can to a wider-spaced warp, and it’ll even out the colour changes in the red leaf and make it more overall-red with subtle shadings of purple and orange. And avoid the risk of problems if I accidentally end up with warp-dominant weaving. What I should really do is sample, but I suspect weaving sampling takes quite a lot of yarn, and the colour changes are long enough that it’d use quite a lot to get a good idea. Maybe I should pull a thin strip of the fibre so I can spin a sample bit with much shorter changes.

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Metaphor of the week

Knitting is like building a house. Even if you only have a rough idea of what the finished house will be like, you still have to make decisions about what kind of foundations to build before you can lay the first brick. And once you start laying bricks there’s a certain order things must happen in, and a limit to what you can change on the fly.

Crochet, on the other hand, is like a paper and pencil sketch. You start with a rough outline, maybe some tentative lines, and build up from there. If you think you need a bit more on one side, you just go over and add some more. There are of course still limits to what you can change on the fly, but they’re different limits, and I think – from brief exposure to it – that they are fewer.

I’m surprised how different the two crafts are, and surprised it’s taken me this long to pick up a hook for something other than fixing dropped knit stitches. I’ve not fallen instantly in love: I don’t like the appearance of crocheted fabric as much as I do knitted fabric, and I don’t understand crochet yet. But for toys, and playing, and making things up as I go along, it has definite possibilities.

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Sekrit project 2 revealed: magnetic Katamari

On holiday last year, Kauket got me hooked on the PS2 game We love Katamari. Long before I had ever played it, I’d spent a lot of time watching other people playing, and shouting things like “get the elephant!”. A Katamari, you see, is a magic sticky ball which picks up anything you roll it over that is smaller than its current size, so you start off rolling up paperclips, and end with rolling up continents, passing through elephants (and tigers, and giant squid, and dinosaurs – I don’t know why the most appealing things to pick up are all animals) on the way.

I had previously come across this crochet pattern for a Katamari with magnets, but since I didn’t know how to crochet, had filed it under ‘cool but impractical’ and mostly forgotten about it. I’m not much of a computer gamer (can’t knit at the same time), so didn’t play Katamari for a while, until I introduced my parents to the game last autumn, and then bought them a copy, and a PS2 to play it on, for Christmas. Since they’re even less gamers than I am, it seemed only polite to unlock all of the levels for them, so I spent the first few days of my Christmas holiday playing a lot of Katamari (in the name of giving, you understand).

Coming with surprising haste after Christmas, as it always does, was female-R’s birthday, and I remembered the crocheted Katamari. One evening was enough for me to teach myself basic crochet, and another was enough to make the base ball-shape. With the arrogance of an newbie, I modified the pattern to make the ball in one piece instead of two, and then ordered some magnets from the interweb, and waited for them for days when unexpectedly heavy snow stopped all of our post.

Working out how to place the nubs, once I’d made them, was difficult. I started by sewing on the poles, and then made several attempts at placing the others, but eventually came up with a plan – I used waste yarn (it’s visible in the third and fourth pictures above) to mark the ball into quarters, then sewed on the equatorial nubs halfway between the quarter marks, which made it easy to place the rest. I’m so happy with the results I’m planning to make another for myself :-)

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Sekrit projects

Have made one and am making another sekrit project as gifts. No pictures or details here in case the recipients choose this moment to wander by this blog, but one recently finished and one recently started can be seen on my Rav projects page. I’m very happy with both: the FO worked perfectly and looks really cool, and the WIP is new territory for me that is so far working out well, if a little confusing. And it’s one of those patterns that got its hooks into me the moment I saw it – it knew all along that one day I’d be making it, even if it took me a little while to catch up ;-)

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