Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coils and Cores

I recently set out to learn core spinning, which I read about in the book Spin Control. Proper core spinning involves wrapping roving around a core, which is usually a millspun yarn. (You can see an example of true core spinning on this blog.) While I plan to do true core spinning soon, I decided to first tackle a similar technique, core plying, which wraps yarn around the core instead of roving. In my case, I wrapped a thick and thin single around my core, giving me these lovely baubles.

This type of handspun is more commonly referred to as coiled yarn. To make coiled yarn, you need to hold the core firmly and the wrapping yarn loosely at a ~90 degree angle to the core as you ply. Push the wraps together every so often to keep the coils tight and to completely cover the core.

It sounds simple, but I had a huge problem keeping the core from overtwisting during this process. Next time I will be sure to adjust the twist in the core prior to plying. I also had some issues with the baubles getting stuck in the hooks on my flyer, but that was more annoying (or was it comical?) than affecting the stability of the final yarn.

The real question is what to do with this cool yarn once you spin it? I had no desire to knit with it so I decided to put it to a more decorative use:

I believe this necklace idea is from the spinning book Intertwined. The whole thing is held together by a wrapped section in the back, which I spun up out of some excess roving. I Navajo-plied this little bit of yarn and I like how it results a nice color progression across the wrapped section.

I'm continually amazed by the all of the different types of yarn I can spin, from coiled yarn and fractally spun yarn, to textured singles and laceweight. I've been spinning so much in the past 6 months that I'm finally feeling confident enough to try new things and assume that they will work out (and to not feel bad if they don't). I guess my mother was right when she told me 'practice makes perfect'.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Booties Go Marching Two by Two, Hurrah!

I'm having one of those shout-from-the-rooftop moments where I want the whole world to know that I finished all of the baby knitting and I'm finally on top of things! Now all I need is for my friends to stop getting pregnant.

My default baby gift was a Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap and a pair of Magic Slippers. This wasn't necessarily my favorite bootie pattern when I did a comparison of baby booties on my blog a little while ago, but it was certainly the simplest to knit and to finish. Considering the fact that I made 10 of these booties, I think it was the right choice. Plus, I just discovered how cute this pattern is when you use a different yarn for the sole and the upper, so when my friends ignore my no-pregnancy request, I won't say no to whipping up a few more of these slippers.

So now things are on their way to their new owners, along with one of my Hogwarts skeins that is going to a not-pregnant friend. This leaves me with free reign to do some fun little projects all for myself. I think I'll learn to core spin and maybe even try to finish the lace shawl that has been languishing on my needles for over two years. I'm excited!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Enchanting Skeins

As promised last week, I'm showing off the results of my nerdy little spinning project. I therefore present the Hogwarts House founders: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.

It's funny that each of these skeins has some characteristic, besides the color, that correlates it to its House founder. For example, the Gryffindor skein has a lot of character, the Ravenclaw skein taught me a new plying technique, the Hufflepuff skein seems the most homespun to me, and the Slytherin skein can best be described as sleek.

The sleekness of the Slytherin skein comes from it's 50% silk content. This was my first time spinning with a silk blend and I was amazed by how easily it drafted. Too easily in my opinion. I might go for an 80/20 wool/silk blend next time, but there is no denying that the 50/50 blend is wonderful to bury your face in. Not that I would ever do such a thing.

The skeins are each unique and special, but I think that Gryffindor is my favorite. I loved spinning the batts from Hobbledehoy and I adore the final yarn. I couldn't help but order two more batt sets from this seller (one in Willow and the other in Italian Soda). I think my next little spinning project will be to learn core spinning on at least one of these batts. I'll keep you posted on how that goes!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Handspun and Holiday

Wow! A lot of stuff has happened in the last week, including finishing my Liesl cardigan and my nerdy little spinning project, not to mention that my father was in town for the holiday weekend. But before I talk about any of that, I want to say thank you for all of your nice comments on my Fairy Lights hat pattern, which even got a nice little mention on Whip Up! I am continually amazed that my little pattern scribbles are so well received.

Now, onto the knitting!

As expected, I ran out of handspun and had to crop the cardigan. I tried to make the most of it by changing around the placement of the buttons, finally settling on using two buttons along the bottom edge and overlapping the fronts slightly. I fully admit to using a yarn over as the second button hole, but sometimes you have to choose 'pretty' over 'technically correct'. Anyway, I really like the look of the resultant neckline and the snug fit that accentuates my bustline. Sometimes the little details, like button placement, make all of the difference.

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until next week to see the results of my Hogwarts spinning project. (Girl's got to have something to blog about each week.) In the meantime, I snapped some great photos this weekend during our tour of southern Wisconsin that I thought I'd share.

People Waiting for the Fireworks at Sunset at the UW Terrace

Bottling Beer at the New Glarus Brewery

The Garden at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin

The Grand Carousel (the Largest in the World) at the House On The Rock

It was a great holiday weekend and I had a lot of fun spending time with my father. I hope your weekend was equally enjoyable and you got lots of knitting done!