Oh, Bear

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This was the last spinning I touched. It’s been a full week. You’re probably wondering, “OMG, Sarah! Are you feeling all right?!?!” The answer, quite simply is that it’s been quite a week.

About a week ago, Mr. Knitting Sarah went from being kind of sick with a cold to pretty darn sick with a cold. The worst of his cold seemed to hit Sunday night — there was a fever and a lot of restlessness which led to our Bear, tender heart that he is, spending most of the night whining. Unfortunately, Monday through Wednesday of this past week was Mr. KS’ annual work conference and it’s one where the kids and I ride along, board the dogs nearby, and spend a couple days at the indoor waterpark at the conference center where the meetings are held. It’s a wonderful treat… unless you arrive sleep deprived thanks to a puppy’s good-hearted concerns as well as pretty certain you’re going to leave sick. Then, it’s kind of exhausting.

I don’t know how, but Mr. KS went and handled his conference well (clearly he has superpowers) and the the rest of us managed to stave off the sickness until the last day and enjoy ourselves. I played some arcade games with the kiddos day one and day three, we went bowling, and ran ragged while we had the chance — sanitizing as we went, of course, to hopefully not infect the entire complex with any germs we might be carrying along. The kiddos spent one day in the waterpark while I knit.

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I started a sock for Mr. KS since it was small and easy to carry around and it felt like a nice thing to do while he was busy working. Plus, he needs some new socks.

Also, I finished up my Milliken vest on the way down, doing a 3-needle bind-off with a pen because I didn’t have the third needle.

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You would think with the load of stuff I packed that I’d have remembered a needle for this bind-off, but I did not. In any case, this beauty is washed and drying as I type, so there will be more on it soon!

By the time we hit the road home Wednesday afternoon, I was feeling the dreaded cold setting in. I was unwell enough that I didn’t touch my knitting at all on the drive (it was also a snowstorm because it seems we can only travel in snowstorms now). There was also this…

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Bear still hates the car and awkwardly sits next to or on top of Moose a lot. It’s as heartbreaking as it is hilarious. Moose, it’s clear to see, is a very patient gent. I should mention that while Bear is riding in the car he is almost always drooling profusely so Moose emerges soaked. If they sainted dogs, Moose should be first on that list.

Yesterday, among a bunch of chores, I started a new garment project…

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Lesley in this Quince & Co Osprey that’s been in my stash for a long while. I’m knitting the top-down seamless version and my goal was to get through separating the sleeves today. Let me tell you, I managed it, but it was against great odds. Thanks wholly to this guy…

 

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Oh Bear. Bear who decided that instead of letting me get some rest last night, he would whine almost through the entire night, waking me about every 30minutes to an hour. Normally, he sleeps from bedtime to 6am with no problem. I’d have gladly slept through it if I could have, but mom hearing being what it is, I woke up for every whimper. Since he did it when Mr. KS was at his sickest as well, I wonder if it was that? Some sort of intuition? Some sort of attempt to help. I have no idea. Let’s pretend that’s it because it’s at least endearing.

Suffice to say, I awoke exhausted and much worse for the wear today, but after a brief nap this morning, I did manage to get through separating the sleeves off of my Lesley.

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And Bear, well, he thinks it’s his job to find me where ever I am and whatever I’m doing, check in with me, and play with me. Or share his treats with me. And I’m going to tell myself it’s because he’s a baby and if he was sad or didn’t feel good, he’d want me to find him and play with him. Or share my treats with him. Oh, Bear.

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Now maybe tonight he can let me sleep so I have the energy to get back to spinning (and shovel the 5-8″ of snow we’re supposed to get tonight) tomorrow. Oh, Bear.

 

One, Two, Fourteen

I’m fairly certain that those of us who choose to handspin yarn for fun commonly let the spinning get away from us. No, I don’t mean any sort of comical cartoon-like spinning wheel come unhinged and rolling down the street inexplicably leaving a trail of yarn in its wake while I chase after it (although my kids absolutely wish something that exciting would be associated with my handspinning). I just mean that you get in a spinning groove and you find yourself spinning just to spin. For a long while. And the skeins of handspun yarn pile up. If you’re like me, they may even pile up to the extent that you start to forget the clever name of the colorway let alone the fiber content and dyer. If you’re like me, you’ve acquired a small box that holds the bags from the fibers you spin. If you’re like me, you inevitably find yourself rifling through said box with your fingers crossed hoping you can decipher which skein of yarn goes with what bag.

I definitely need a new system of organization. Please don’t tell Marie Kondo how bad this has gotten or the fact that my 3 clothing drawers are organized and folded neatly may be overshadowed by this shadow of failure. But let’s go there another day.

Suffice to say, I went to photograph and share my recently finished yarns and found not one or two skeins, but fourteen. Oy. Dating back to the end of last year. Oy. And I did the rifling through the plastic bags with the crossed fingers. Oy.

But, on the bright side, through the crossed-finger search I did come up with a new idea for organizing that may just manage to not step on my voracious appetite to keep spinning with minimal interruption. I suppose time will tell on that point.

For today, I’m going to quickly (or as quickly as I can) share those fourteen skeins with you with minimal commentary. I’ll be leaving out yarn weight and yardage, just because I’ve not yet gotten to logging that all in and there’s really a need here to share them and get these skeins tagged and on the shelf before I get any further behind. I’m hopeful that today you’ll forgive me and be OK looking at some pretty yarns and stand with me, fingers crossed, in hopes that the future will be slightly more organized.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some pretty handspun yarns!

Fall Foliage 8 from Three Waters Farm on the 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah base.

Maple Leaf Rag from Three Waters Farm, a simple 2-ply on the 80/20 Merino/Tussah base.

Three Waters Farm’s Firefly Dusk, a chain-ply version on the 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah base.

A 2-ply Kelp on 85/15 Polwarth/Silk from Three Waters Farm.

From Nest Fiber Studio, this is Damaged Goods on Superfine Merino.

Hazelnut from Inglenook Fibers spun from battlings made of a 40/25/25/10 Corriedale/Superfine Merino/Mulberry Silk/Flax base.

From the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club, a 3-ply version of Dried Rose Petals on the 50/25/25 Merino/Bamboo/Tussah base.

Dungarees and Flannel on a 100% Mixed BFL base from Three Waters Farm.

TWF’s Summer Palette on 80/20 Merino/Tussah base.

Roasted Gold on an 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah base from TWF.

Hayride on 70/30 Mixed BFL/Silk from Nest Fiber Studio.

60/20/20 Merino/Cashmere/Silk from Three Sisters Fiber Co. (now Abacus Dyeworks) — This one either had no name or I misplaced the tag with the name (insert eyeroll here).

Chasing Deer on 100% Falkland from Nest Fiber Studio.

And last, but certainly not least…

Multifarious Ruse on 100% Finn from TWF. This one could have been any color and I’d have bought it for the name, but I’m in love with the colorway, too!

And there you have it, all 14 spins!

Playing Catch-Up

You may have noticed some general quiet from me over here. Nothing is wrong, that’s just me doing a very poor job of prioritizing my time. Once the polar vortex moved on, we were excited to get outside.

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We found this spot — that little triangle in the lower left is a spot where an otter was entering and exiting the water. You can tell because you can see his little otter slides straight out in front of the point.

And we found some super cool icy prints…

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This one we believe is from a skunk!

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And of course there was ample sign of the mighty beaver!

We also made a quick trek out to my parents’ house where we got to play with grandpa’s “tank.”

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And then we drove back in a snowstorm.

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This photo was probably during the best driving conditions of the trip. We started out in rain, then it turned to freezing rain, and then heavy snow. Suffice to say, the trip took about twice as long as normal and the car was coated in a sheet of ice when we got home.img_5890

This photo was taken after we dug ourselves out from getting stuck trying to get in our driveway. Ah, winter in Wisconsin!

Oh, and yesterday we had another snowstorm.

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No big whoop, just another 14 inches.

Bear is ecstatic with this development.

The snow is probably another 8″ deeper now than when I took this video and, as you can imagine, every trip outside is mostly hilarious with this little dude as he tries to navigate through snow that is basically at eye level with him.

In between shoveling and school and more shoveling and and laughing at the dogs and more shoveling, I’ve been managing to get some knitting, spinning, and setting handspun yarn done. I finished my Weekender Sweater and it is washed and dried and ready for photos. And I started a new knitting project, a Milliken vest in Quince & Co Ibis.

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I missed the announcements provided by Quince & Co and was sad to hear that this yarn is discontinued. I used it for my Fairbanks sweater last year and now the Milliken vest. I’ll be sad to see this base gone, but I’m sure Quince & Co has more goodness coming, they always do!

I finished some spinning, too. I’m foggy on the timing of everything because I’ve just kind of kept on spinning, but I have this pile of handspun to photograph and share with you.

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With the return of my maiden from Schacht, I finished the singles for my 2-ply challenge over in the Three Waters Farm Skill Builder SAL.

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I had so much fun with this and I cannot wait to talk ply twist when I get into it! For those who didn’t know it, I did post up a video on prepping fiber, especially when it relates to this Organic Polwarth/Cultivated Silk blend. I have a set-up now that is pretty easy to do tutorial videos so if you have something that you’d like to see, please just let me know and I’ll see what I can do to create the content.

While I let my singles rest, I spun this bobbin.

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It’s from Nest Fiber Studio and the colorway is called Young Woman at  Half-Open Door. I had a bag of Organic Polwarth and I was gifted a second bag in the Organic Polwarth + Silk blend, so I broke both bags in half and am mixing the two. The blend may turn out to be a disaster, but I’m optimistic it’ll work out just fine. These things usually do.

I’ve got some school tasks, more shoveling, and snow pup play on the agenda for today, as I slowly work on playing catch-up here, but expect a post that is largely a finished handspun yarn dump coming up later this week and hopefully a few snapshots of my newly finished Weekender as well. I just wanted to touch base today and catch y’all up on where I’ve been. While you’re waiting, I’m answering “Ask me my top 3” over in my Instagram (@knittingsarah) stories today — pop over and ask me for a top 3 list!

 

 

 

 

The Forest Or The Trees: Lessons In Consistency

It seems quite appropriate that as I awoke to 6 inches of new snow and subzero temperatures that today should be the day I share my Frosted Daybreak results with you.

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Each month the colorway featured in the Three Waters Farm 2019 calendar will be available for pre-order in the shop and this fiber happens to be  January’s Calendar Colorway (available through January 31st). I’ll be using the Calendar colorways each month in conjunction with the Skill Builder SAL hosted in the TWF Ravelry group and this month’s theme was none other than the elusive consistency.

I shared the prep for this spin back on January 4th

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Splitting my fiber into 6 equal nests, my plan was to spin a traditional 3ply yarn matching the colors as I went with the theory that equal divisions of fiber would produce similar color runs throughout my singles.

Remember how I said no plan survives contact with reality? Well, the same was true in this spin. Near the end of my second bobbin, I opted for a 2ply instead of a 3ply — and instead of using 2 nests per bobbin, I added 3 per bobbin. I made this choice for a couple reasons. First, I’ve never tried to match color runs outside of chain plying and as I got spinning I had a feeling starting with a 3ply might be a bit chaotic. I also was spinning my singles rather thin, to about 28 wpi, and I know for a fact that I am not as consistent with lighter singles as I am with those that are closer to 22-20 wpi. I was pretty sure my color runs would not be synced up as well as I would like and that would lead to some waste in my spinning — amplified by the 3rd ply — as I pulled out parts of my singles to keep the colors lined up.

As you can see if you really look closely, these plies are just not as consistent as you would hope for a consistency spin.

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Don’t get me wrong, they are pretty darn consistent, but when you are trying to pin that 28wpi down so 4oz of fiber matches that measurement on the nose… well, this just is not that spin. 2-ply it is, I decided!

I will say that the plying was… it was more nerve-wracking that I’m used to. The truth is, I probably lost 3-5yards (maybe a bit more) of singles trying to keep the color runs synced. It was never as much yarn as I felt like I was losing, but it was always more than I’d hoped I would have to pull out to keep colors lined up. As I got to the end of the plying though…

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I could see that even if each and every length of yarn I measured wasn’t consistent, overall, it was pretty darn good. This led me to ask: What are the components that play a role in consistency and — ultimately — what are we really talking about when we talk about a consistent yarn?

Is consistency in handspun hitting a perfectly matched wpi at each place measured across an entire skein of yarn? Is it plying to the same angle and hitting a specific tpi (twists per inch) across the whole spin? Is it spinning a skein that on a whole knits up at a consistent fingering (or sport or DK or worsted or bulky) weight? After this study, I’ve come to believe the answer is complicated.

If I look at my finished skein, it’s easy to see that I did not hit a perfect wpi on each and every length across the entire skein.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty good. And it’s definitely one of the best 2ply skeins I’ve created with regards to consistency, but you can see here and there where plies are uneven. So, if I’m using the yard stick of “perfectly match wpi in each length of yarn” I’m off the mark.

If we start talking about TPI, or twists per inch, I’m probably a bit closer. Samples taken throughout are between 6-6.5 twists per inch with a few outliers where I got a little flamboyant. When the diameter of the 2 plies diverge. I tend to adjust the angle of the twist in this spot to really play-up that little poof.

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That, to me, is art. That’s why I handspin yarn. So while it may adversely affect the overall mathematical measurements in my spinning, I would never want to sacrifice that for technical perfection. That’s just me.

What about consistency in weight across the spin? A-ha! Well, there I did a good job.

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Across the skein, this yarn produces a consistent 14wpi. So, despite the fact that where you take individual pieces of the yarn and find the measurements will be inconsistent, the bigger sample set, 1″ at a time, gives me 14wpi, every time.

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And, at least in my opinion, it also gives me a really beautiful yarn.

So where does that leave me with this study in consistency? Did I succeed in creating a consistent yarn?

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If spinning consistently means you have the control to spin the yarn that you want, then I have to say the answer is no… and yes. What I was working toward was consistency across the board complete with 28 wpi singles across the skein. In dissecting the skein and the details of the yarn, I was not as perfect as I was aiming for. BUT the goal was also a fingering weight 2ply yarn in which the color runs synced up. And I have in my possession a skein of Frosted Daybreak that is a 2ply fingering weight in which the color runs match up quite well. So are we looking at the forest or the trees? Which ultimately defines a consistent yarn?

Where I land, at least for now, is that consistency is more complicated than I originally thought. Who would think that minor inconsistencies across a skein would lead to a consistent skein on a whole? It feels so counter-intuitive and yet I have a skein of Frosted Daybreak in my possession that says it’s wholly possible. Like so much in spinning, all the elements involved in a spin interact and play a vital role and somewhere in the mix of it all yarn is born.

I’ll continue to study the individual elements and work toward mastering a greater level of perfection across them. Clearly there is room for improvement. At the same time, though, I’m quite happy to know & to celebrate that even if my skills are a work in progress, it doesn’t detract from my finished skeins. I’m of the opinion that while the trees are all important, even if they aren’t all perfect, on a whole the forest still makes quite a pretty picture.