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!

The Polar Vortex and Me

It’s been big news all week — the Polar Vortex. Schools and businesses across my fair state of Wisconsin closed and the governor even declared a state of emergency for a day this week due to the extreme cold. You know when Wisconsin says the cold is an emergency, it must be bad!

At our humble abode in north central Wisconsin, I think our lowest recorded air temp was -31F and — as if to add insult to injury — during the cold we had some decent wind as well forcing the wind chill to register at it’s coldest -52F. It was cold enough that Mr. Knitting Sarah — whose motto is “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices” — even stayed home. I don’t think that in the almost 20 years I’ve known him that’s ever happened.

I left the house Monday for a lunch, but from that time until yesterday afternoon I didn’t leave the house except to scamper around the back yard with the puppy. As part Newfoundland, part Shepherd, part Great Pyrenees, Bear doesn’t mind the cold (as illustrated on this GIF from the trail last weekend).

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In fact, I don’t know that there’s much on this Earth that he’s discovered in his 13 weeks on Earth that he loves more.

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In fact, we wonder if he may in fact be part wolverine (not really, but he sure does move like one!).

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So even when it’s -20F outside, he still requires short jaunts around the yard. Moose is having no part of those shenanigans (proof of his ‘older & wiser’ status, clearly), so the job falls to me. There are worse things in life than playing with a puppy, even in subzero temperatures. Thankfully, our family has no shortage of cold weather gear.

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Of course, being (mostly) captive indoors doesn’t really bother the fiber artist in me. I worked on the sleeves for my Weekender sweater. I got all the way to the ribbing on sleeve #1. And then I tore it all out.

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My gauge was just a smidge off and when you are decreasing based on rounds, not measurements, of course, gauge being a smidge off throws the whole thing off. So rather than do a bunch of fudging mid-sleeve, I ripped it out, took the time to do the math, and now I’m back to within 5″ of being done. This kind of set-back is a little irritating, but I’d rather have the sleeves done well than doing the mid-sleeve mega fudging, so I don’t second guess or feel bad going back. Thankfully I did take good notes for sleeve #1, so I’ll be able to replicate sleeve #2 without any problem.

I’ve also been spinning away. I finished singles for my  Nest Fiber Studio ‘Hayride’ colorway.

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I fell in love with this colorway and got it from a friend willing to destash it to me. I’m excited to be working on it.

Part way through I started having some issues with my Schacht Reeves — the back maiden wasn’t holding its position and was causing pressure on the drive wheel to the extent that the screws that hold it in place were coming loose. I could still spin, but it was clearly not right and I didn’t want to cause further problems with the wheel. I emailed Mielke’s Fiber Arts where I purchased the wheel and they got back in touch with me in less than an hour. Within 24 hours we had an action plan with Schacht who will be replacing the piece at no cost as it’s still under warranty. The only bad part is I need to send the part in so they can be sure they get me a part that properly matches my wheel. “Bad” only because it means I’ll be without this wheel for an estimated 2 weeks. I was pretty bummed (and still sort of am!) to be without my “big wheel” because it’s my main wheel for spinning singles, but as Mr. KS pointed out, I have 2 other wheels and a whole bunch of spindles. I will manage (somehow).

And manage I am! I’ve been spinning away on my Jensen Tina 2!

This is Summer Palette from Three Waters Farm. I may have gone to my stash and grabbed anything with the word “Summer,” “Hot,” or ” “Heat” in the name Tuesday evening as the hinges on our door froze to the point I used a blow dryer to defrost them. Next up is “Roasted Gold” — again with the nod to all things warm, even as temps are above zero today for the first time in a week.

For those who may be missing stories of my dear Moose, I assure you he continues to be spoiled and loved…

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And to instruct me in the fine art of the nap. Undoubtedly he is occasionally bummed he has to share me with his attention grabbing little brother and when he goes back inside alone because his feet are sore while I continue to chase Bear around the yard, but I make sure he gets lots of attention and love. He is and always will be my spirit animal, after all.

I hope you all have stayed warm and busy this week, too!

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(gratuitous cute puppy picture)

All The WIPs and One FO

After finishing my sweater, I’ve found myself shying away from the thought of finishing… anything.  As someone who is usually very methodical in my craft — first you start, then you work through the project, then you finish, and finally start a new project — it’s been a weird mindset in which to find myself. Thankfully, it’s not ledto a wild foray into startitis, but it has resulted into a few new WIPs.

I’m tantalizingly close to finishing this pair of socks…

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Just a little ways to go on the foot and then the toe and this pair will be done. I’ve been plinking away at it since mid-summer, so it’s time to mosey toward the end of this project one of these days.

Shortly after finishing my sweater, I started this shawl project…

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It’s a new-to-me construction (who knew there was such a thing — lol!) as I am knitting in a circle! As so many new techniques are, it was a bumpy start, but I seem to be cruising now. I have no idea how far I’ve left to go before I hit some cool lacework, but I’m kind of slowly working my way into this project. I’m still debating another knitting project as I have yarn wound for hats and really could use some extra hats, especially with holiday company coming in a couple weeks. I think I’ll attempt to finish up the socks and then move on to hats. I don’t want to get too crazy with this multiple projects at once thing!

In spinning news, I’ve been very driven to work on singles. I’m definitely in a “fill the bobbins and worry about plying another day mode.” And so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with the exception of my latest Top of the Month Club

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Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm and I found ourselves curious how it would look as a traditional 3-ply and really there’s only one way to find out. Spin it!

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It just turned out beautiful! Add it to the list pile of yarn I want to knit into hats!

In the great game of “fill the bobbins” though, I’ve got singles for Nest‘s Damaged Goods…

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Three Waters Farm’s Multifarious Ruse…

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These are all set to ply.

On the wheels — because I’ve been splitting time between my Jensen Tina 2 & Schacht Reeves — I’ve got an Inglenook batt in a braid (I think) in the Hazelnut colorway happening. I’m probably 1/3 of the way through the fiber I have…

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And Three Waters Farm’s Maple Leaf Rag is almost finished.

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Seriously, 5 minutes and I’ll be done with this. I’ve not yet decided what spin will come next on this wheel, but you probably won’t be surprised to know I have some ideas.

It’s really quite weird to not be focused in on finishing anything in particular, especially right before the holidays when most are feverishly knitting on holiday gifts. I have to say though, I’m finding it very refreshing! I’m not sure how long it’ll last — it may end when I hit “publish” on this post! — but I’m going to enjoy it while it does!

 

My Fade, Found

This post has been a good long while in coming. For those who aren’t aware, the Find Your Fade phenomenon revolves around the Find Your Fadeshawl pattern released by Andrea Mowry in December of 2016. It’s taken the knitting world by storm with knitters raiding their stashes and shops doing up kits all to make this one gorgeous, ginormous shawl. Notorious for how its colors melt into one another, it seems as knitters we just can’t resist this shawl. I knew straight away that I wanted to make one, but I think that feeling was pretty universal across the knitting world.

At first, I thought that maybe I’d snap up a kit from a fave shop. I have to admit I’m actually really a sucker for kits. These days, if I buy commercial yarn it’s often a kit for a specific design. It’s a way to try new yarns or to see color through someone else’s eyes. Plus, everything I need is neatly packaged all together and the ease of that fact is just really… it’s relaxing for me. As I browsed kits though, nothing really spoke to me. I decided to turn to my stash to find my fade. As I looked over my stash, I realized that it would be pretty amazing to do a Find Your Fade shawl entirely in my own handspun.  And since that moment, that’s the only fade I’ve been seeking.

The handspun fade definitely did not just leap forward fully arranged and perfect. I pulled things out of my stash and laid them out in order, but nothing. I’d spin new yarns up and add them to the stash and then I’d pull things out (again) and squint really hard to try to see my fade, but to no avail. Two months passed while I searched unsuccessfully. And then, on February 28, 2017, while I stood in my living room doing yoga, staring at my stash displayed in a shelving unit in front of me, there it was. find-your-fade

I’d found my fade with these 7 skeins. They are from Left to Right:

I was so excited! I had just a couple quick projects to finish before I could cast-on. And then less than a week later we found out we’d be moving. I managed to cast-on and work on it a bit in mid-March while the kiddos swam at our annual trip to the waterpark, but I never really hit my groove with the knitting because we were all over the place. I nipped at a couple stitches here and there after the move and then summer rolled around and it was big enough to be impractical to both carry around with me and knit on (it’s large and in summer, that quickly translates to uncomfortably warm).

So my fade hibernated until late last year.

Thankfully, no THANKFULLY(with all sorts of bells and whistles and shouts of joy!), I’d taken good notes for once. Even though I had to rip back a bit where I’d — ahem — pulled the needles out when I was showing it to someone and lost a few stitches, it was easy enough to recover and get back into it. And once I started back in on it, there was no tearing it out my hands. I cast-off the night we got back from our little cabin adventure earlier this month.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very large shawl. I mean, this thing is like 8 feet long! Taking a photo of the entire thing is kind of a challenge, so I thought I would share snippets of it before I share the entire project. I’m convinced there’s no great way to do this, so I just  snapped a series of photos that will serve as kind of a pieced panorama of detail photos — I hope that makes sense! It was the best I could come up with for photographing such a substantial piece of knitting, especially in winter when my outdoors and lighting options are somewhat limited.

So here we go!

This was the cast-on edge…

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You’ll notice that this yarn (as well as a couple others) were spun a bit heavier than the rest. Since I didn’t spin specifically for this pattern, my yarns aren’t exactly the same weights. Personally, I think it works fine. This one — more than the others – I definitely could have blocked out more aggressively, but my blocking was very crude on this piece — again, due to the size and a utter lack of low traffic areas in the house. So I wasn’t too particular with things like convincing the lace section here to open up.

You can just catch that cast-on yarn at the far left below…

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And you can see the next four colors as they melt into each other.

And here is where the pattern reaches its widest point. You can — again — tell the blocking is a bit lacking along the edge, but I am going to worry about that another, warmer day. If you look at the more yellow section in the middle here, this was the section that was the nail-biter for me.

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That yellow yarn just freaked me out. It really didn’t look great next to the teal & orange to the left of it, BUT years of working with color has taught me that how a color looks depends a whole lot on all the colors that surround it. I knew my skeins looked good all in a row, so even though I had serious reservations, I kept knitting through the yellow to the next color.

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Once the reds and oranges and greys of the second last color started working their magic, I relaxed. I knew it was going to look good. In fact, I knew it was going to be truly special. The melting and blending were working as I’d planned to incorporate that worrisome yellow.

This is all fine and dandy and the different melting colors are lovely, but this is a project that you simply can’t appreciate fully in pieces. Because the magic is in the putting it all together…

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And this project, more than any before, takes my breath away. I think knowing that I spun all the yarn with my own two hands definitely gives me a feeling of accomplishment with it, especially considering how much knitting this project is as well. Beyond that fact, though, the idea that it is essentially made up of 7 random, misfit skeins that each plays an essential role in bringing the piece together… I don’t know, it just feels like such a wonderful life lesson, too. The idea that the independent elements of a project or a team don’t all have to get along to work effectively together. All you have to do is find the right position for each piece, and the arguments will fade and the complementary aspects will be able to sing. So say the colors, so says life. Am I just waxing philosophical now and projecting onto my knitwear? Perhaps. But what can I say? I do like it when my knitwear philosophizes. That’s just how I roll.

In any case, I am delighted that my fade has been found. Delighted that the months of searching and spinning and rearranging finally led me to this finished project, where the colors that don’t always get along sing in beautiful harmony and I, I am one warm, colorful woman on a cold, cloudy day in the middle of winter thinking about the power of finding ways to convince misfit pieces to fade into their complementary counterparts.

Five Days, Five Spins: Day 1

I sat down to write this morning and share some of my latest projects when I realized I had exactly 5 fresh skeins of handspun yarn to show you and I thought, “Five Days in the Week, Five Spins — how perfect!” So this week, I’m going to share a spin a day with you. Fun, right?!

I thought I would start the week with a new-to-me dyer, Nest Fiber Studio. I got my 4oz of BFL in the ‘Agaricus” colorway via Ravelry destash.

The label says it was the May 2015 fiber club colorway. I acquired it because Nest has great word of mouth in the circles that I spin in and I really wanted to try it for myself. When you are someone who largely spins from just one or two dyers, it’s always interesting to venture into new territory and see how other dyers handle color and their fiber.

I opted to spin this fiber with my Very Fast Flyer (because they were the only bobbins I had left!) into a traditional 3-ply.

img_4261As you can probably see, I split the thirds in progressively smaller nests to great some interesting barberpoling. I found the Nest BFL spun in the soft & easy way to which I’ve become accustomed with other dyers. Such an enjoyable fiber to spin!

nestThe finishes skein is lovely, don’t you think?!  The colors in this fiber had a very soft transition between them so much so that there is almost a uniform consistency in the way that at least 2 out of the 3-plies blend throughout the skein almost giving it the appearance of a 2-ply — so interesting!

nest2I was hoping to create yarn for socks, but I don’t quite split the fiber into equal portions so I would up a teensy bit short in yardage as I had some waste. Ideally I’d like to have 360 – 375yards of fingering weight yarn for a pair of socks, but this skeins is just about 340yards of yarn. Can I still make socks? Sure, but I’d most likely want to bring in a solid color for the heels & toes, maybe short the length of the cuff a little, and possibly work them toe-up 2-at-a-time to get the most out of it.

nest3Or maybe I’ll just use it for something completely different. Whatever the case, it was really an enjoyable spin.