Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Spinning and Thoughts on Softness

    1. 1. b.Yielding readily to pressure or weight.
  1. Smooth or fine to the touch: a soft fabric.
See those definitions above? Both come from the American Heritage Dictionary, and they are both definitions for "soft" Both can apply to yarn, and yet the two definitions have very different meanings.

Do you know how one person can call a yarn soft, and another can call it harsh or scratchy or just not soft? Some of it can come down to personal perceptions, but some of it has to do with the inadequacy of the Mother Tongue for spinners. We need more words for soft.

Sure, we use the word "squooshy" to mean "yielding readily to pressure or weight." But you must admit that squooshy is a bit informal.

And there is no word (that I know of) that has the exclusive meaning of "fine to the touch."

There is one softness of angora, another of targhee, another of merino, another of cormo, another of silk, another of alpaca, and of cashmere....

There is softness of a springy wool, not necessarily the finest, but spun lovingly woolen and plied just so.

There is the softness of a fine wool spun woolen and finished with care, and that is softness upon softness. Or the softness of one fiber complementing another in a blend.

So tell me, my fellow spinners, is there a language out there that we can borrow from, with many words for soft? We sorely need them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Little Dollhouse for Mercy

Jan Messent's Knitted Gardens book was the inspiration for my little dollhouse. Mercy wanted one with twins, a boy and a girl. See them wrapped in their little baby blankets? Tucked in their little Moses basket?

I unvented my own house with knitted, unspun roving, felted in an effort to construct a building of substance.
The dolls, grass, and clothing are knitted with both millspun yarn scraps and handspun yarns from fiber samples.

Knitting a dollhouse is a delightful task, almost as much fun as playing with one.
Despite the fact that the doll's abode tends to unexpectedly crumple in on itself like a long-abandoned farmhouse, both Verity and Peace wish that they had asked for a dollhouse for Christmas. Looks like I will have opportunity to perfect my architectural construction....

I wanted to take a picture of the kids for the grandmas again, but they don't hold still enough and my pictures keep blurring. This was the best of the bunch. You can still see the cuteness despite the blurriness.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Baby Sweater Kai

For my brand-new baby nephew, the Kai Sweater from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms.

In superwash lambswool merino, from Yarn or a Tale, handspun.

We don't have any babies of the proper size to act as a model, so I hailed a passing snowman. Agreeable fellow.
I'd love to stay and chat, but like most of you, I have some frantic knitting to do!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

CA Swap Goodies and CotLin Review

My secret sister from Christian Artisans (my favorite Yahoo group ever, peopled with encouragers, pray-ers, and fiber lovers all wrapped in one) was Charlotte, and a most lovely package from her arrived today.

Yummy coffee and tea.

Frankincense essential oil. (Does that remind you of something?) I collect essential oils, so this is a real treat.

The Dagoba chocolate bar, ahhh....flavored with "mint and a hint of rosemary" I am saving that for my birthday, on Christmas Eve.

And last, but not least, some tussah silk. I so wanted some silk for the Blue Castle scarf, the first in my "Lacy Scarves for Dear Friends" series that I'm starting in the new year. So after I finish my Christmas presents, out will come my dyepot again, to play with silk.

Thank you so much, Charlotte!

Theresa wanted to know what I thought of Knitpicks CotLin.

Here's what I think. CotLin and Peaches and Cream should be friends.

Both of these balls of yarn weigh the same. Poor Peaches & Cream. Yes, and I would be skinny, too, if I were taller.

CotLin 70% cotton, 30% linen

more refined. Suitable for special gifts

slightly more expensive, but still economical

a special sheen from the linen content

can be splitty. Not enough to trouble me. Its hand is a bit different from dishcloth cotton, but just as (maybe more) pleasant to knit, because it is not at all stiff.

smaller gauge. I actually prefer the slightly thinner CotLin for dishcloths, for this reason alone. I do all of my dishes by hand, and stuffing a thick cotton dishcloth into a glass to wash it just doesn't work sometimes. Cotlin makes for a more versatile thickness.

Durability??? Only time will tell. Linen should make for a very strong and durable yarn, but is the spinning job adequate.... and the quality of the fiber???

I plan on using CotLin again. It doesn't replace Peaches and Cream, but it is a nice alternative, in my opinion. They get along well in the Stash.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Little Project

Here's what I have been spinning and knitting. Hope to have a finished object to show you next week.

Colorway Inspiration for the Weekend: Major and Minor Keys---Value

When there is a wide range of light and dark in a color composition, that composition is in a "major key" of value. (If you have a hard time perceiving value, imagine your composition broadcast on a black-and-white tv....what you see are the different values of the colors... each color corresponds to a particular shade of gray, whether it contains gray or not. Snow pictures are ideal for noticing value because we naturally perceive them as blacks, whites, and grays, even when other colors are present.)
A narrow range of light colors or of dark results in a "minor key" of value.

For yarns and rovings, I tend to prefer a minor key. If I am spinning along a roving and come to a spot that is much lighter or darker than the rest, it jars me somehow.

And yet, mixing lights and darks in a knitted object can be quite pleasing to me. I simply prefer using

light and shadow (i.e., a textured stitch pattern)

or several different yarns to achieve that end.

What is your preference for dyeing? For spinning? For other fiber crafts? Major key or minor key? Or does it depend on the project?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So I Look Up from My Knitting.......

......and this is what I see. Please tell me that this is a good sign.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Knitting with Icicles

Hah! Got your attention, didn't I? No, I am not knitting with the icicles, they are just having their pictures taken together. This is my first bit of Christmas knitting. I am so trying not to get carried away this year. I envision myself knitting away, snug in my little nest....after the stress of NaKniSweMo, the projects will be small and few for the month, and my focus will be not on crafting at all...but the Quest to fit the Vest. I can only focus on one extra thing at a time, folks. If I can focus at all.

Here's my first Christmas object. A lovely "warshrag" in Knitpicks CotLin. The linen makes this red glow from within, and that is just right for the season at hand.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NaSpiKniVeMo---FO pictures

Berchtesgaden-inspired vest, based on a sweater from Knitting in the Old Way, made with handspun from naturally colored lambswool; collar trimmed with handspun merino-silk, dyed on my dye day.

The wind blew. The pictures blurred. Top photo, more accurate colors. Bottom photo, closer up. Enough so you can see that I really did finish! No time to write now, but I love the vest. However, although it goes on, it doesn't fit in a way that I agree to model it. I am hanging it up where I can see it every day and going on a Quest to fit the Vest. We'll see if I'm ready to model on Groundhog Day. Call me on it!

Enjoy your weekend, dear friends and neighbors!