Sunday, July 31, 2011

FO: Rock Island

That's right, I finally finished Rock Island. Knitting this shawl took a while and then it sat in my knitting basket for a couple of weeks waiting to be blocked. And it took a few more days beyond that to get a chance to snap pictures. But it's done! (Ravelry project page)

I'm sure you've seen shots of the full shawl so I'm just going to show modeled and detail shots that I like best.

This is actually a rather tricky piece to wear because it is so big. I've never been a huge fan of the traditional drape: triangle centered across the back with the tips falling down over your shoulders in the front. The look is a bit tough for me to pull off. Instead, I've opted for the hopefully-artful drape around neck and shoulders. And this piece is great for that.

The body of the shawl is just garter stitch and it feels wonderful scrunched up around the neck. For all it's size, this is one very light and airy shawl.

I love the simplicity of the lace stitches - clean geometric lines. And a semi-solid yarn is definitely the way to go with this one. I used Madelinetosh tosh lace, a really lovely 2-ply superwash merino lace weight yarn. It's very elastic and that suits this piece nicely.

Ready for some detail shots?

I thought so.

This is definitely not a beginner lace project. Don't get me wrong, none of the techniques are difficult. But there's some fiddly work in tiny yarn. And it's not fast, even if the last section does speed by quite pleasantly. You work the edging first. Probably a good thing since I'm sure it would have taken me much longer to finish this shawl if I had to work all 71 repeats at the end of the project. That said, it's a lovely edging and Jared worked the turn very nicely, See?

As much as I love the lace bits, I think my favorite part of the piece is the froth of garter stitch in the center. Can you blame me?

This one's a keeper!

Monday, July 25, 2011


I did it! I spun every day that the Tour rode. No, I didn't spin through all of my birthday Briar Rose haul but I'm still really proud of what I was able to accomplish.

This past week I worked on the second bump of Polwarth, about 6.5 ounces of that lovely fiber. I had finished up the singles by the end of the day on Saturday and this greeted me on Sunday morning:

Plying took about an hour and I ended up with my favorite finished yarn yet. I really need to spin 3-ply yarn more often!

That's 350 yards of dk/light worsted weight. I'm not exactly sure how thick it is since the yarn is still a bit damp. But I just couldn't wait any longer to snap a picture (and you wouldn't be able to see anything if I tried to get a shot while the yarn hung to dry in the bathroom).

So how did I do?

Working left to right, I spun (a) 82 yards of navajo-plied Cormo; (b) 330 yards 2-ply Cormo; (c) 370 yards 2-ply Polwarth; and (d) 350 yards 3-ply Polwarth. That's 1132 yards of finished yarn (and 2696 yards of singles).

Not bad at all.

Things are moving forward on the knitting front, too. I sewed buttons onto Tadpole's sweater last night. (Oh, how I despise sewing on buttons!) It still needs a bath and blocking but I'm getting closer to FO shots.

I also cast on for Damask about a week ago. What Damask? It's not in the project bar. Yup, I frogged it a few days later. I wasn't thrilled with my yarn/needle combination (Swan's Island Fingering on size 6 needles) and the pattern rather annoyed me. There's no key to the symbols in the pattern charts - you have to read the line-by-line instructions, which I don't like to use, to figure out what the symbols mean. This normally wouldn't be a problem but the designer's symbols aren't intuitive (blank squares for purls on RS rows, for instance) and some of the symbols are entirely made up - not something you'd usually find in a commercial chart. I just wasn't enjoying the knit and I wanted something relatively mindless that I could knit on autopilot.

So I frogged Damask and cast on for Citron. I'm sure I'll get sick of the stockinette at some point but for now it's just addictive knitting.

I'm actually quite a bit farther than you can see in this picture (which I only took a couple of hours ago!). Yes, someone managed to take a decent nap this afternoon.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Days 10-16

Oh my, where has the time gone? I've been diligently spinning every day (and I've even managed to take some pictures) but that has really cut into my blogging time. My internet time in general, actually. I don't even want to think about the state of my blogroll.

So what have I been up to?

As you can see, the purple Cormo is done. That's 330 yards of 2-ply heavy lace-weight. It's really, really lovely.

And I've started the second bump of Polwarth. One bobbin of three is done.

I'm shooting for a worsted or aran weight 3-ply. Maybe it will be something for Tadpole. Or maybe it will be something like this for me.

Speaking of Tadpole, the Cormo passes the nom test.

And so does the sweater I've been working on for her.

Here it is in a mostly-finished state a few days ago. I wove in the last end tonight and now it just needs buttons and blocking. But I have the buttons!

The color is incredibly tough to photograph but this shot actually shows the true shades of purple and the stitch pattern pretty well.

My model experienced a gravity surge.

One more thing on the knitting front: I finished Rock Island (except for blocking). FO shots soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Days 6-9

Wow, I'm actually spinning every day! I'm pretty impressed with myself for this one. Where were we last time? I believe I had just started spinning up the red Cormo. On Thursday I finished up the singles.

I really wasn't too confident about this one when I finished the bobbin. The singles weren't as even as I would have liked and I really wasn't sure what the finished yarn was going to look like.  Since I only had an ounce of this particular batch, I figured it would make a great test yarn. I decided to navajo-ply the singles because it's easy, to be perfectly honest. I didn't want to make an andean plying bracelet (aka a tourniquet for my middle finger) and I thought keeping the colors together would be nice.

And indeed it was.

That's the pre-wash shot. This one turned out far nicer than I had expected. And here's the post-bath pic:

Look at that bloom! (And the color difference is due entirely to taking pictures at different times of the day, the yarn didn't bleed at all.)

I suppose I should have looked up the Cormo section in my new book before I started spinning. This particular breed is a recent development, begun by breeding Corriedale with Merino (hence the name), with a focus on producing consistent fleeces. Did you know that true Cormo sheep have fleeces whose fibers don't vary by more than 2 microns from the average fiber width of the fleece? That sort of consistency is amazing. The fibers have a fine crimp and, as I discovered and the book reminded me, bloom quite a bit when washed.

This was such a fun transformation that I had to start spinning up my second batch of Cormo next. Saturday I got the bobbin going.

And today I finished the first half of the bump. I'm shooting for a lace-weight (ish). We'll see what happens after it hits the water.

Speaking of giving yarn a bath, the Polwarth got a little soak to set the twist (err, wash the drool off).

The drool didn't stay off for long, though.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Days 4 and 5

Where was I? At the end of the day on Monday I had this.

Last night I plied the two bobbins together and this morning I wound the finished product onto the niddy-noddy.

All 370 yards worth. My handy little spinning app says that the finished yarn is about 18 wpi (before washing).

Skeined up for a quick photo shoot before taking a nice bath.

This one gets the Tadpole seal of approval, too.

So what spinning did I do today? A bit of Cormo.

I'm glad I eased into the fine wools with the Polwarth since this is a bit tricky to spin. I'm planning to navajo ply this one and then knit it into another Baby Aviatrix (rav link) since I'm pretty sure Tadpole will have outgrown her first one by the time it gets cold again.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day Three

Today I started with this

and ended up with this

I won't be able to keep up this pace (especially not on a weekday) but it was very satisfying to finish up the first batch of Polwarth singles.

I'm letting them sit overnight and I hope to ply them tomorrow. The youngest member of the household has a nice early bedtime and that should help.

Except that she also thinks they're fun to play with.

Happily, she's too young for object permanence so she's already forgotten the bobbins exist.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day Two

This is all of what I spun up yesterday

And here is what I did today (actually it's a bit more than what's shown). I've still got about half of the second bobbin left to spin and then these should sit for a day before I ply them together.

This means it's time to think about what to spin next. More Polwarth? I'm actually thinking it might be time to try some of the Cormo now that my hands are a bit more familiar with fine wool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day One

First up: Polwarth

Polwarth is a fine wool, a bit coarser than merino or cormo. In fact, Polwarth sheep are the result of breeding merino rams with merino/Lincoln cross ewes. But don't think that "coarser" means anything close to coarse. Polwarth is a bit easier to spin than merino because its fibers are a touch thicker (by a coupe of microns) but it still feels like butter. It's that soft.

I was a bit surprised by this because the BFL top actually felt softer to me in ball form than the Polwarth did. I didn't really notice the true softness of this fiber until I split a chunk of the top into thirds in preparation for spinning. It sure is lovely!

Polwarth sheep live in Australia, New Zealand, parts of South America, and the Falkland Islands (which I suppose are technically part of South America). None live in the US, although I'm not sure why. But that question will have to wait for another day since I'm having too much fun spinning it to take time for a google search.

The fleece & fiber book noted that Polwarth is great for next-to-the-skin wear (even baby knits) and should be spun fine with high twist for durability. I'm shooting for a 2-ply fingering weight or thereabouts to keep the finished yarn usable. Polwarth is supposed to bloom quite a bit upon washing so I'm really curious to see what this looks like once it's set.

Enough with the talking, what does it look like?

I actually have more than this spun up but the light stinks for an accurate picture. Somehow I managed to finish the first bobbin, about 2.5 ounces of fiber. Let's see what I can do tomorrow!