Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Summer sweaters

Happy Birthday, Zachary! Can't believe you're already three. Also, can't believe it's only been three years. And sorry about the Summer birthday jumper, which you can't wear for ages...

Not for long, anyway :)

The warm weather hasn't stopped me knitting a pair of socks, either

I made these ones using hand-dyed sock yarn. (I have some more white sock yarn waiting for me at the post office, at the moment, so it's like my birthday, too!) The self-striping thing worked out well, although I had to knit a straight tube to keep the stripe thickness even, and then pick up stitches for a heel afterwards (and chop out the grey parts to keep the heels and cuffs all-green). The afterthought heel is almost exactly the same shape as a toe, but it fits great.

I also finished a wooly hat, which is a pattern made up as I went. I knit most of the body of it (from the top down) watching "Les Miserables" at the theatre (which I saw twice and may see again, I liked it so much) and the contrast bit I did at home. (Can only knit very simple stuff without watching my hands.)

The edge was curling up, so I picked up stitches on the inside and knit a 1x1 rib facing, so it's nice and thick, non-curly, and a little tighter. Which is good, because this hat is for a 13yo, and it's going to be very slouchy! :)

Mostly, I have been doing some spinning.

I finished my Romney/alpaca for my NEWT. This is 50% alpaca from a fleece that my brother and sister-in-law gave me. I offered a knitted thing, and Kylie requested socks. After research, I discovered that 100% alpaca is not ideal for socks, because when it's stretched it doesn't bounce back, but mixing it with 50% wool does the trick. So I mixed the brown alpaca with a variety of colors from last year's Romney fleece (red, orange, white and blue) on my carder, and spun it up so that it will stripe in a subtle and random way.

130g = 313m of 3ply yarn, 20 WPI thick (fingering weight)
It's fun with batts this month. The next experiment was a little spin mixing some Jacob wool with sparkley angelina. The original was "humbug" top, which (I think) means they take all the natural colors and layer them into fibre ready-to-spin.

But carding it mixes it, of course, so the variation was pretty subtle. The sparkley bits are hard to photograph, too

50g = 54m of 3-ply
Nice and thick, this one.

Then, after chatting with some "Slytherin" friends in our little spinning thread, I decided to try "spinning woolen"

Normally -- always -- I spin "worsted". That means I stretch out the fibres between my two hands, preventing the twist from getting into the fibre until I'm ready, and then sliding my fingers back to carefully let twist in. It makes for dense yarn with very little air trapped in the yarn.

Spinning woolen means that I let twist go right up to the fibre as I stretch it. It's hard to explain, but it sure goes against the grain letting twist go up like that... yet it works. If you let a little twist in to the fibre you're stretching, it goes straight to the thinnest parts (so they won't stretch more), leaving you free to keep stretching out the thicker parts. Anyway, my yarn did end up being thick-and-thin.

Also, to spin "woolen", you have to prepare your fibre into rolags. I'm used to spinning fibre that is already brushed so that all the fibres line up. With rolags, you roll up a flattened square, and then pull fibre from the end of the roll, so the yarn you make is basically a long, thin tangle of fibres. That's what makes it airy, light and soft.

Only did 30m of 3ply, it was 40g, so it's quite thick, but spinning thin woolen yarn will take a bit of practice. As it was, I broke my single about 5 times! Noob. :)

Well, I'm off to play trains with that 3-year-old! Toot!


kelgell said...

Happy Birthday Zachary. Hope your jumper still fits well when it's cold enough to make good use of it.

The socks look great and I'm interested to see how Kylie's socks knit up too.

If you woolen spun the humbug fibre, would it be more black/white than the carded grey?

Oh, the Les Mis beanie looks good too. I like your design. I hope to see the movie soon now that it's out here.

Can't wait to come play yarn with you. Soon. Pretty darn soon. :)

Alrischa said...

The jumper is a bit big. On purpose.

I'll try spinning some humbug Jacob "woolen". I have about 100g left, because the carder only holds about 40g at a time.

I'm thinking of giving the hat to Abby (trying to knit birthday/Christmas presents this year) and might make her matching fingerless gloves with the leftovers :) (I'm starting your socks next month)

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