Twist Takes Center Stage

As I shared earlier this month, March has been a month of spinning singles. I’ve spun singles before, but I’ve never really dedicated myself to a deep dive study of them. This month, I managed to spin, wash, and dry 6 skeins of singles. 28 ounces of yarn that are so much more than just a few hundred yards of yarn with which to knit or weave. These skeins represent hours of study, sprinkled with a hefty dash of doubt and uncertainly, that slowly grew into self-confidence and understanding and ultimately culminated in a very basic level of mastery over the technique. That’s pretty heavy for 28 ounces of wool.

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All from Three Waters Farm, these colorways are from L-R: Calendula Flowers, Quilter’s Magic, Spring Forth, Common Ground, Cold Sunny Morning, and Storm Clouds. They are almost all different fiber content, so let me introduce them to you!

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Calendula Flowers was dyed on a 60/40 Polwarth + Silk base. This was the most challenging of all the spins for me, just because it was the hardest for me to find the right amount of twist. At first, I was spinning it with too little twist and it was at risk of falling apart. Then, I panicked and starting adding too much twist — because, of course that’s what you’d do, right?! And then I think I started to find the “sweet spot” for the fiber.

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Thankfully with handspun yarns, a good finish can forgive some of those early inconsistencies in a yarn. It was an 8oz spin, so it’s a substantial skein of heavy fingering or sport weight yarn and it’s settled into a pretty well-balanced skein. I just love the bright, warm colors of this skein, too. It was absolutely the perfect colorway for an end of winter spin and I’m really excited to measure this one and start dreaming of possibilities for it.

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Quilter’s Magic was dyed on 100% Rambouillet. I’ve spun singles on this base before so it was much easier to find my stride on this base. I find Rambouillet lends itself really nicely to a worsted weight single.

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It’s a really lovely, low-twist single here with rich, bold colors. It’s absolutely a perfect yarn for a nice cozy hat.

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Spring Forth was my last singles spin this month and it was by far the best executed. This was the companion colorway to the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club and I got both on the 100% Falkland base.

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Falkland, I’ve learned, lends itself really, really nicely as a singles yarn. I spun this 4oz in an evening and I’m really just totally in love with it. I think it’s the perfect example of when all the stars align — when feet, hands, and mind are all working in perfect harmony and you create a truly wonderfully balanced skein.

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Common Ground was the Top of the Month Club colorway for March. As I mentioned, it’s also on a 100% Falkland base.

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This worsted weight single also turned out super nicely. My original thought was to weave these last two together in a squishily delicious scarf.

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Cold Sunny Morning was dyed on a 40/40/20 Merino + Superwash Merino + Tussah Silk base. It’s the least uniform in diameter and twist of all the singles I spun this month. It might have been just that I rushed through this spin a bit too fast or that I didn’t quite hit the “sweet spot” where my feet, hands, and head are all working just right. I’m honestly not sure.

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I know it will knit or weave up just fine, but I will definitely be revisiting this blend in the future for a singles spin to try to refine my skills with this blend just a bit more.

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And last, but not least, Storm Clouds on 75/25 BFL + Silk.

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I shared this with you earlier this month, but I thought it was worth bringing it back and putting it in the context of the entire month-long study. This may have been my favorite silk-blend for spinning singles. I take that back. I found it the easiest silk blend to spin as a singles yarn because it came most naturally to me, I found that balance more quickly with it. Truthfully, once I was really going, they were all very enjoyable spins.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve still got a lot to learn about the nuances of different fibers as singles and, you know, how to not panic-text spinner friends and mentors at random times for advice on if I’m getting the TPI right on a certain spin. But I am worlds beyond where I started less than a month ago with spinning singles and I’m very proud of and thankful for that. Not only has it really widened my spinning horizons, I feel as though my depth of knowledge when it comes to twist has leveled up.

When I stop to think about why I feel such a deeper understanding in how I create yarn, I can’t help but recognize that the crux of it is a simple as the yarn itself. Twist takes center stage with singles. Because the construction of a singles yarn is so very simple, as a spinner you reach a new level of intimacy with twist when you spend time spinning stand-alone singles yarn. It’s the basis for all the yarns we make, but with singles that interaction between fiber and twist are much more exposed, much more raw. Stand-alone singles are so beautifully simple; fiber + twist to create one of the most basic iterations of yarn possible. And that, indeed, is something to take the time to explore and celebrate.

A Tale of Many WIPs

My last post was about an FO, so it seemed only fitting that this one be about WIPs. For those not familiar with the term, a WIP is a “work-in-progress” whereas an FO is a “finished object”. As you might guess, I’ve usually got a few WIPs going. It just so happens that today I have more than a few, more than I usually do. So let me tell you a tale, a tale of WIPs.

First, a sock.

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This is my autopilot project that has no real finishing timeline or goal. They are another sport weight pair for Mr. Knitting Sarah and they are what I pick up anytime I’m tired or I want to keep my hands busy, but my mind free. I’m almost to the heel flap on sock #1 and while I could probably have the pair finished in a day or two if I applied myself, I’m not in a rush at all with them. They are my project for unwinding and I’m content to not rush them.

You might also recognize my handspun Brillig.

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Why, oh why, with so little left am I dragging my feet on this beauty?! Well, I need to spin more Iron Blue from Three Waters Farm so I can finish! Because of how I spun this project, I want to use up all the African Sunset colorway which requires as much or more of the blue. And I’m short on blue!

I’ve been busy spinning singles for our singles challenge this month, so the Iron blue has been pushed a few times in favor of other projects. So I’ve purposely been making super slow progress on knitting this project, knowing that I have another hurdle to clear before I can totally finish it. Thankfully, I finished up a couple more skeins of singles this weekend and then finally

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I pulled out that other braid of silk blend Iron Blue from my stash and got going on it. It’s absolutely swoon-worthy. I just LOVE this blue.

For some not super clear reason, I also thought it was about time to chain ply my February Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm

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It has been sitting here since the third week of February at least, so it was time. It’s unusual for me to have spinning projects on both wheels at once, but it’s happening!

And let’s not forget the spindles…

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I’ve not been real driven to make progress on this, but they sit on my desk and while I wait for the computer to boot up or sit on hold on the phone, I spin a few lengths here and there.  I added a couple Turkish spindles to my flock of favorite spindle weights, so while I may be taking my sweet time on the spin, I’m super excited to try out these new spindles!

And let’s not forget my soon-to-be WIP…

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Unless winding the yarn makes it a WIP, in which case it’s the newest WIP. It’s not yet on my needles, but it will be shortly. This is destined to be a special gift and I absolutely cannot wait to get started on it!

And that, my friends, is my tale of many WIPs! What kinds of WIPs are you working on today?

Three Fresh Skeins

It seems that I’ve been down to one bigger post a week here lately. Life’s normally hectic, especially in spring, but Mr Knitting Sarah’s schedule did a little shift this month, too. It’s nothing major, but since our family schedule more or less revolves around his and my blogging time gets put together piecemeal in between all the other things in our life, it’s felt like a bit of a scramble to adjust the little pieces of time I carve out for this space. I’m doing my best to make the time and I’ll continue to add a little more than I usually would into each of my posts until I’m back to some sort of schedule. For now though, hang with me as I ride this wave of low-level discombobulation. I’m still creating at a good clip, my screen time has just been a bit limited.

Today, though, I’ve finally got some new handspun yarn to share with you! Three fun skeins of worsted weight 2-ply yarn from 2 new-to-me dyers!

First up, at the end of last year, I picked up 2 braids from Wound Up Fiber Arts during an end of the year or new year’s promotion (I’m not sure which). I’d seen these fibers popping up in my Instagram feed and with their bright colors and I thought I would give the shop a whirl. The first I tried is a colorway named “All Business” on a Superwash Targhee base.img_0015

I pre-drafted the braid because it was a little stickier than I prefer to spin right out of the braid. This is true of probably 40% of the fiber I spin (and all the fibers in this post), so that really was no big thing in my eyes. One downside, however, is the fiber did bleed onto my hands, turning them blue while I spun. As far as bleeding goes, this was definitely not the worst I’ve seen, but I don’t ever really want to see it happen, you know?  The skein bled further in the wet finishing I did with it, but did not impact the colors in the fiber that I could tell which was good.

I’ll admit that the bleeding was a little disappointing to me, but after washing and drying the skein I am still pretty happy with the results…

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It’s bright and cheerful, for sure. I’m guessing about 180-200 yards of worsted weight yarn. It’ll be a nice, colorful hat for my daughter to steal someday.

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I did reach out to Trisha, the dyer behind Wound Up Fiber Arts, just as a courtesy to let her know of my experience with the bleeding. I work with enough dyers to know 9 times out of 10 they would rather know than not know when something isn’t quite right, so they can make adjustments to their process if necessary. I received a nice note and even though I did not request any action from her, she did refund me the money for this braid which I thought was kind.

The second braid I spun from her was called Flutter-by on Superwash Merino and I’m happy to say there was no bleeding on with this one!

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It’s fun to spin new dyers because they all generally share and interpret color a little differently and this spin really exemplified that for me.

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The color combinations were new and unpredictable to my eyes and even though I had concerns in singles form how it would ply up, I think it’s a really fun skein. This one is a little less airy than the Superwash Targhee and much softer thanks to the properties of the Merino wool versus the Targhee. It’s another of those 180-200 yard worsted weight spins, maybe a little lighter weight than the first and will — again — make a lovely hat which my daughter may steal. The pink is limited in it, though, so I may get to keep it.

And last, but not least, a OOAK braid from On The Round

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This dyer came highly recommended from a spinning friend in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry group and I’d been meaning to give her fibers a try for a while.

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The colors are subtle and understated, like a whisper. It’s a dainty little skein that I feel I need to cradle gently lest I spook these slumbering colors. Again, it’s in the 180-200 yard range of worsted weight yarn. And — like the other two skeins — will mostly likely be turned into a hat during some mad hat knitting binge in the future. That’s totally a thing for me, is it for you, too?

And there you have it! Three fresh, worsted weight 2-ply skeins from 2 new-to-me dyers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really do love a quick and easy 2-ply worsted spin. (or three). They are such a great way to try new dyers without a huge time investment and some pretty near-instant gratification results. What fun, right?! Believe it or not, there are 2 more skeins of handspun, a sweater, and a pair of socks all on the drying rack at the moment. Lots to share as soon as I can sneak the time, so stay tuned!

Thawing Winter into Spring

The sun is popping out in fits and spurts today despite constant snow flurries. While it’s true that we are fairing much better than our friends on the east coast as we begin the slow and steady process of edging out of winter and into spring, the Feb-blah-ary feeling I wrote about last month remains to a certain extent. We are enjoying slightly warmer temps and the snow is starting to melt… img_0169

But it is still covering a fair bit of the landscape. It’s wet and slushy when we go out for hikes and while the wind can be cold, the sun definitely feels warmer now. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

My parents visited for the weekend. Between the snowy weather and our busy schedule, we haven’t seen much of them lately, so it was nice to have a visit. Of course the company changes how much time I have to craft, but I do still have some progress photos to share with you!

Remember my sock blank socks?

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They are coming right along. I’m probably about 6″ up the leg at this point. I’m still really enjoying them and having fun knitting from the blank. I pick them up almost every morning and every evening for at least a few rounds. I’m thinking I’ll knit another inch or two and then add on the ribbing and cast-off. I won’t use up the entire blank because 460yards is just more sock than I need, so I’ll have to figure out what I have leftover when the time comes and see what I can do with it. It seems a shame to waste such fun yarn!

In my spinning life, I’ve been working on this…

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This is Calendula Flowers on 60/40 Polwarth/Silk from Three Waters Farm. Spinning these colors so reminds me of spinning on my porch in the sunshine — such a wonderful vibe right now! I’m working on spinning this as a stand-alone singles yarn. I say “working on” because it’s definitely a steep learning curve because of the fiber blend and the fact that I’ve been spinning it somewhat thin. From what I can tell, it’s looking like it’ll all work out in the finishing, but time will tell! I have 8oz of fiber for this project and I’m about halfway through it. After a slow and unsteady start, I’m really in a groove with it now, so I should be able to wrap it up this week.

Speaking of wrapping things up…

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These skeins are finished and sitting on my desk, waiting for some glamour shots and a few kind words.

Another things that’s done…

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…is Moose.

He’s so tired from running through slush and daylight savings havoc that he could not even be bothered to take up his usual place on the couch. The other day I found his big puppy dog eyes looking up at me from my chair (also known as the one piece of furniture he’s not supposed to be on). Can’t he please just stay and sleep in this nice comfy chair?! Of course, I let him stay there until he felt like moving. Those eyes can thaw even the fiercest determination. If only they could thaw this winter into spring!

 

In Celebration of Singles

How is it March already?!

It was another whirlwind of a week last week here. The end of the month is always a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity as there is always something winding down and something new launching. This month, Mary Ann at Three Waters Farm & I announced our intentions to focus on spinning singles yarns with the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group and over on We Make Yarn on Instagram. There were some great articles on singles yarn in the latest Spin-Off Magazine and we were just inspired to get the community talking and working with them. For all you spinners out there, we’re kicking off our month of singles with a giveaway over on @wemakeyarn on Instagram, so be sure to check it out and enter to win before tomorrow when we will be drawing winners!

Truth be told, I’ve been totally into singles spinning lately. Partly because I knew this -along was coming, of course, but even moreso because it’s taken me a long time to really get a feel for singles yarns and now that I have that feel, I’m really just in a groove with making them.

This is Storm Clouds, a BFL + Silk 75/25 from Three Waters Farm.

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I don’t know what to tell you except that it’s seriously one of my favorite yarns I’ve ever made.

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It’s not technically perfect by any measure, but it’s just… it’s got something about that I am in love with. It’s just the right combination of low twist and these cool, blue-grey colors that I adore.

I also whipped up this awesome skein…

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The light is catching it a little weirdly in this photo, but in any case, it is called Quilter’s Magic on Rambouillet and it is also from Three Waters Farm.

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These singles… I swear, I think I’m really getting the hang of them! It’s been really fun to explore the ins and outs of singles spinning, to get a feel for how much twist I need, how to achieve the weight I want, how to not sweat the minor inconsistencies — the whole everything that goes into not just creating these yarns, but really enjoying creating these yarns.

I regret to inform you that I do not currently have details on either of these skeins yet. After getting them spun, I got them washed and dried and then things took a slight turn as I volunteered to cook dinner for one of my husband’s co-worker’s last week who had a birthday and, of course, two more people were invited along for a little mini dinner party. I was totally happy to do it, but for a day there things kind of stood still while I pulled it all together. It was great — learned how to make a new kind of roast, a new way to cook carrots, and found a yummy from scratch chocolate cake and frosting recipe.

While I took a mostly supervisory role in the cake baking as my baking daughter went at it, I was hanging around as she was putting on the finishing touches with the frosting. I turned to say something to my son who was emptying the dishwasher when I heard “Whoa whoa WHOA! [THUD] Oh no!!!

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The two layer frosted cake had hit the floor with the most spectacular THUD I have ever heard. The three of us stood there staring at it, mouths agape, for what felt like a long time. A really long time. Tears began to stream down my girl’s cheeks. I quickly assessed to see if any part could be salvaged, but it was so moist and hit with such an amazing splat that the impact basically annihilated the top layer and put a unrecoverable crack in the bottom layer. There was no possible way to pick it up without it disintegrating in my hands. It was a goner.

It was 3pm. I needed about 15minutes to prep the roast and 2 hours for it to be in the oven (at 100degrees coolor than I needed for baking a cake) and had company arriving by 6pm. A new cake would take 30minutes in the oven plus whatever time it would take to mix it up. I looked at my girl and told her that if we moved quickly and got it in oven in the next 10 minutes we could make a second cake and have it done in time. It was a total and complete whirlwind as we did our greatest Great British Baking Show-style baking to date, but…

img_0078 We made it, just in time, and it was delicious. In fact, there’s a good chance I am ruined for all other chocolate cake forever now.

That’s the long story as to why the yarn measurements did not happen yet. I could have waited an extra couple days to share them with you, but I did want to share the giveaway in time. I will, however, get that yarn info up on each of their pages on Ravelry when I get there and if you have specific questions, please feel free to ask away.

Cake and dinner party behind us, I did start another singles yarn…

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This is Cold Sunny Morning on Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk 40/40/20 from Three Waters Farm. It’s not one I’d planned to spin as singles, but I wanted to spin the blend as a single and hadn’t tried it yet and this was a braid I’d gotten in a destash, so I felt brave enough to give it a go.

Having been acquired via a destash, it was a little compressed, so I did some pre-drafting just to make my life easier. This is what remains to be spun up…

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The little time investment in pre-drafting really makes the singles spin super easily. I’m a little unsure how I’ll feel about this one as a finished yarn. I have a feeling I should have maybe gone for shorter color repeats, but well, time will tell.

And with that, it’s time for me to get back at it! I hope if you’re a spinner, you’ll consider doing some experimenting with singles along with me and the rest of the community this month. I’m open for questions and advice should you need any!