Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rug and Scarf: Handspun on the Needles

Bruce and I had a chance to go out to a couple of dinners a few weeks ago....I haven't had much chance to knit lately, so of course I took some along to work on during the programs....no need to even glance down for the garter stitch of the rug, so it came along, and I got five little rectangles done. They shall be windows, to peer out and see the different moods of autumn. They are
knitting up beautifully....


Getting my hands on the needles again made me want to cast on for the "Branching Out" scarf in my green Clun Forest yarn. It is a happy marriage of yarn and pattern. So some of my precious spinning time is going into the scarf.... but it is a pleasure.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Exploring the Down Wools: Babydoll Southdown Samples

Amy sent me two samples of her clean, coated Babydoll Southdown fleeces. The sample on top is a short-stapled , irregular crimp, the one below is a longer staple, more defined crimp. That is no stain on the bottom sample, but some rich yellow lanolin! I liked them both, but found the short staple of the first sample difficult to process with my hand cards.
These are some fairly fine fibers, and they wanted to spin up thinly for me. Even as a three ply, they are on the light side of a fingering weight yarn. Extremely elastic yarn. Amy says she is making an effort to breed for next-to-the skin softness, but isn't sure that that is attainable. I think it depends on how sensitive your skin is! Just as an experiment, I tucked one of these samples in one of my feminine undergarments.....and forgot it was there for the rest of the day. Though it would not be my first choice when a need for softness was primary, I look forward to making socks from my wool, as I think they will be quite comfortable.

Perception of softness even with the finest of down wools is affected, I think, by the wool's greatest strength .....which is its wonderful elastic crimp. This southdown has bouncy, bouncy crimp. I would compare it to a mattress. The springs in some are firm, and in others the springs are yielding. This affects the perception of softness for both mattresses and for wool. If you want a mattress for sleeping on, well, that will depend on your taste. But if you want to jump on the bed and have pillow fights, then pick a nice firm mattress. Bounce is fun!

Amy pointed out in her correspondence with me that Southdown has the most microscopic scales of any wool fiber.... this allows it to "grab" onto very fine fibers, making it perfect for blending with angora and other fibers that tend to want to escape! She sells some very yummy sounding blends, herself, which I hope to try one day.

I will finish spinning up my larger, lanolin rich portion, and check back with you all with notes on the spinning and the dyeing.

In the meantime, I have reserved two fleeces (one white, one colored) for next year. With their diminutive size, a Babydoll Southdown fleece is a very modest investment, and one that may just steal the heart away.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

First Beaded Yarn

Stormclouds and Raindrops. Here’s my silver streak baby alpaca, 18wpi, spun with Japanese silver glass beads strung on silver thread, 40 yds. and alone in a 2 ply, 200 yds.

I will not tell you how long I spent on those silly 40 yds. ; suffice it to say that I learned a lot about children and what not to do when making a beaded yarn. And I have a very pretty tangled ball of beaded silver thread that should convert easily to a lovely Christmas tree ornament.

This is one of my favorite yarns that I have spun so far. I put far more plying twist in than usual.....The yarn is still soft, and it looks so much more like I think yarn should look. Plus, there is that durability factor.

Again, this yarn goes into my stash, waiting to be knitted into something pretty and lacy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Going Loopy

What to do when you get your hands on some of Loop's Half Baked Baby Cakes? Make yarny cupcakes of course. Enjoy the pictures! Once I get my shop set up, I'll be selling these on Etsy.
They'll be 100 calorie snack packs for people on yarn diets.

Were these fun to spin? Um, well, I really hate to create any more demand for these little batts, so I am pleading the fifth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Exploring the Down Wools: Clun Forest Sample Two

I only had a small amount of this fiber, so it will make a pair of baby socks or be a socky swatch.

The loveliest thing about it is how it whispers to me during the long draw, the sound of fibers grabbing on to some of their neighbors in the drafting triangle, and saying good-bye to others.

Took dye beautifully, a little rougher than Suffolk, but I spun it thicker to be a bit more cushy, and it has its own endearing fuzziness. Great elasticity.

Both Clun Forest samples were from Kathy at Wool World.

I spun it up in a hurry because I wanted to get to this box......

Babydoll Southdown.....

Friday, April 4, 2008

Exploring the Down Wools: Clun Forest Sample One

Did I say that 3 ply sock yarns will be the norm now for my down wool samples? Well, I will do a 3 ply sock yarn for sample two of Clun Forest. This first sample was so atypical of the breed that it didn't want to be sock yarn. Lustrous, fuzzy but not elastic, and with a fairly long staple, I suspect that somewhere along the line there was a young ewe who dallied with a handsome longwool. Or perhaps it just goes to show that variations within a breed can be quite pronounced.

But I fell so in love with this fiber that I dyed the roving in spring greens and spun about 300 yards of 2 ply heavy laceweight from it. Someday I want to knit it into a Branching Out scarf. In the meantime it is a cheerful addition to my stash and very pleasant to stroke.

Photographed with the BFL that I didn't use for the triloom shawl border, just cause they look so nice together.