It’s Sweater (Spinning & Knitting) Weather

A couple weeks ago I shared this image of all the grey yarn I’d prepped for Spinzilla…

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It’s 28oz in total of a Merino + Tussah Silk blend from Three Waters Farm  sitting there. For those non-spinners, usually you purchase fiber in 4oz lots and generally when I’m sharing a single skein, that’s one 4oz lot. To put together a sweater spin, of course, takes more fiber. As this is hopefully going to wind up as a Tecumseh sweater (that’s the current working plan — a final swatch is still necessary!), I needed more than a single skein. I opted to spin 28oz, deciding that I’d much rather err on the side of way too much than not enough. Whether I’d opted to spin just enough or more than enough, it is not a small undertaking either way!

I had 2 different dyelots of grey, so I broke everything up as randomly as I could into 1-5oz nests. The non-uniform size of nests was on purpose to try to avoid pooling as much as I could with random color repeats. Control card in hand to help keep my aim on that DK weight yarn I’m looking for, I spun my heart out during Spinzilla, finishing up 20 of my 28oz.

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Like the yellow I think I’ll be using with it, it may be a bit on the heavy side. I think for future projects, I will likely aim one rung lower on the WPI on my control card just because I tend to fluctuate a little toward the heavier side. Oh, the lessons learned along the way!

In any case, uniformity across the skeins is pretty good…

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In both size and color…

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And I’m quite happy with the results post-finishing. I just need to skein them up so I can knit up another swatch and then get started!

Having started my last 2oz of Grey on my Schacht Reeves last night, I felt like spinning a bit in the kitchen today and I had the option of another round of plying  some Grey on my Jensen Tina 2 or to start on the blue color I intend to use, Iron Blue from Three Waters Farm

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I went with the Iron Blue and I have no regrets. This is my absolute favorite blue to spin! It’s the second project I’ll be using it for and I still have some Superfine Merino in my stash. It’s just that good. So taking a short break from the Grey in this late stage of its spinning just feels like a wonderful treat.

This sweater is my participation in the TWF Handspun Sweater-along which started August 1st. I dragged my feet all the way to October 1st and the start of Spinzilla before getting started. I waited for a number of reasons, but really if I’m honest, a big part of the delay was that I was intimidated by that 28oz of Grey. That’s a lot of Grey and that kind of tonal project can make even the best spinners get a little squirrel-y.  Surprisingly though, the spinning did not really phase me like I thought it would. I think the combination of using a base I’m really infatuated with (80/20 Merino + Tussah) and the unrelenting drive of Spinzilla meant I really didn’t have time to think much about spinning one color for days on end. And it just…. it flew by!

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment wasn’t the Spinzilla push, but the fact that not only did I wash & finish those first 5 skeins the day after plying them, I also kept spinning the remaining 8oz of Grey when I’d finished. Sure, I thought about taking a little jaunt in a totally unrelated spinning direction, but instead I kept on with the Grey. Determined to finish, I didn’t attack with the same vigor and sense of urgency as I did during Spinzilla, but I kept at it. By the time I go to sleep tonight, I might be finished!

On that note, I think it’s time to get back at it! Happy spinning & knitting, my friends!

 

Fairbanks, Finished

On the first of the year, I started a sweater. It seemed fitting that I was knitting a bulky sweater since I was leaping into 2018 in a wood-heated one-room cabin during the coldest week of the year with temps rarely getting above 0ºF. At the very least, my Fairbanks in Quince & Co Ibis was nice and cozy to knit on!

As bulky sweaters have a habit of doing, this one flew off my needles. I probably would have finished it in under a week, but instead I set it aside right around this spot…

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It was for a good reason though, as I set it aside to finish off my Find Your Fade shawl which had been languishing unfinished for much too long. But you know how things go  — you set a project aside for a specific reason and then you get distracted and it takes you a while to circle back to it. I finished the Find Your Fade, 2 pairs of socks, some mittens, and then finally — after a friend shared a photo of a sweater she was knitting — I was reminded that I really need to pick up my Fairbanks again.

Inspired, I did just. In just a couple house I’d finished off the body and by the next evening I was knitting on the sleeves.

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I almost always knit sleeves 2-at-a-time magic loop. It’s not a method for the faint of heart as it is awkward getting going and then just kind of gets less manageable as you go. Never one to do things the easy way, I actually really like it. If you can get over the graceless set-up, it’s a super easy way to achieve matching sleeves. Personally, I would rather deal with a clumsy set-up and an inelegant method than take notes while I knit, so 2-at-a-time sleeves and I get along very well indeed.

Day 2 or 3 back at it, I finished the sleeves and added the simple neckline and I was finished. Ironically, I finished my beautiful bulky sweater on the first official day of spring. The sweater has since been sitting on the chair in my bedroom…

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This chair right here. Oh, and look at that lovely Jensen Tina 2 next to the chair where the sweater sat for a couple weeks. It’s currently out of commission for a bit while the flyer and one of the bobbins are going back “home” to visit Jerry Jensen. I’m getting a new flyer made as well as some spare bobbins and who better to get these things from than the original source! Isn’t the wheel lovely, though, and doesn’t it match weirdly well with the other furniture? Seriously. I just can’t get over the perfection here.

But what was I talking about again? Oh yes, a sweater.

Realizing that photos of me modeling this sweater were not going to happen anytime soon, I opted this morning to get some photos on the dress form. And ta-da!

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Here it is! Are you looking at my stash? Focus people! The sweater! It’s the roomiest, coziest sweater. It looks very blah on the model, but I just love the fit — it’s the perfect curl up and watch the snow fall kind of sweater.

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The hem curves down in the back thanks to some simple short rows, a detail I love as it provides full coverage of my backside when I’m on the trail in running tights. Plus, it just ups the cozy factor for around the house!

I really adore the simplicity of this design with its basic raglan sleeves…

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And elegant, straightforward garter neckline.

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Fairbanks is a very easy to follow pattern with just that little short row section to keep you on your toes and provide that lovely hem design element to really set it apart from your basic raglan. I knitted mine with about 5″ of positive ease and would definitely recommend the 4-5″ range of positive ease for a loose, comfy fit. This sweater is meant to be roomy and especially considering this sweater is bulky weight and mighty warm, I think the generous fit is important. As I mentioned early, I used the recommend yarn — Quince & Co’s Ibis — that is 50% Texas super kid mohair & 50% superfine merino. It’s soft and a joy to work with. I’m guessing there will be some pilling with wear, but nothing my Gleener can’t handle!

All in all, I found Fairbanks to be a quick & fun sweater to knit. It’s just such a classic design that I have zero doubt that I’ll wear it for years to come. And while we’re quickly marching toward weather that is too warm for this snug sweater, I know it’ll get loads of wear. It’s the perfect answer to cold weather — an expert at chasing away all the chill on even the coldest days winter have to offer.

 

 

Labor of Love

It all started here.

Rambouillet Wool Roving - Hand Painted Spinning or Felting Fiber, Birds in the Holly
                                                  Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm.

A braid of ramboulliet fiber landed on my doorstep in late December, my January installment of the Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm. I had no idea exactly what to do with it, but I ordered an extra braid and then two of the coordinating braids as well. I just had a feeling about it. A couple months passed and somewhere in there I gifted the coordinating braids — a deliciously deep tonal green — to a friend who just got a wheel because I knew she’d love them. I stared at my 8oz of “Birds in the Holly” and wondered what I should do with it.

It was in late March or early April when I was corresponding with a friend who had woven an incredible scarf with the colorway, that I admitted that I kind of didn’t know where to start. I loved the colors, but I had no clear vision for it. She essentially said, “You just have to go for it.”

img_2776So I did. I prepped it into about a zillion little 1-3gram nests…

img_2787And I just started spinning.

img_2927It was gorgeous, really, every step of the way and the ramboulliet spun like a dream.

img_2968Within a couple of weeks I’d finished my singles, all 8oz of them.

And then they sat for about a month until I finally got to plying them.

img_3265And you know, like the steps of the process before, I just knew this was special.

img_3297The plying took more than a week (which is a long time for me).

And when I finally wound it into a skein, I realized why…

outside skeinIt was over 1100yards!

With so much yardage — I don’t think I’d ever done something quite on this scale with my spinning, I knew it just had to be a sweater. BUT, I was just a smidge shy on the yardage I wanted, so I asked around in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group to see if anyone in the club would be interested in destashing a braid to me.

img_3723And someone very graciously did!

img_3993I spun up the third 4oz braid during the Tour de Fleece.

And then finally in October, I added it to my 1+1+1 list and found a window to cast-on and it happened.

img_4813My first ever handspun sweater was really & truly happening!

img_4827Maybe it was the thrill of seeing my handspun knit up so beautifully, or just the excitement of making this project happen, but I took this fingering weight sweater and I knit it in just over a month.

img_4885And every stitch, it was just pure love.

img_4919I knit the sleeves 2aat — still using the 1100yard original skein, unsure if it would hold out, but just going for it.

img_5128And you know what? It held out. Despite the fact that I extended the body to hit at my hip and made long sleeves instead of 3/4 length. When I made it to the cuffs, it was the first time I felt truly confident that I finish this project with enough yarn (even though I bought an extra 2braids of Birds in the Holly along the way just in case).

img_5161I used the extra skein for the neckband which I made the full & generous 3.5″ called for in the pattern.

Are you ready to see the final result?

Maybe?

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I suppose I can also add that I made the neckband in garter instead of stockinette stitch so it would lay flat instead of curl.

detail-sleeveAnd for all my bound-off edges I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I’m mildly concerned it’ll stretch too much, but I’d honestly have it too stretchy than not stretchy enough. I love the way the edges turned out.

fullWho am I kidding? I love the way the entire sweater turned out.

backI honestly cannot believe that this started as fiber in my hands. It seems a little impossible.

back-onAnd yet here it is…

front-onWith a proper fit and everything.

It was a labor of love from the first spin of my wheel to the last bound off stitch. And honestly, friends, I have no more words for this one.

Just a Spot of Knitting

In these parts, it’s a beautiful time of year. The leaves are at their peak of changing color and the temperatures are cool, but very comfortable. While I  really should be tidying up our yard in preparation for the winter and knitting those mittens I keep swearing I’m going to knit, instead I’ve been hitting the trail a lot with the kids.IMG_0908-0Knowing the bare white winter is headed this way, we just have to take time to soak up the color — and vitamin D — while it lasts. It never stops amazing me that when the leaves start changing color and dropping, everything is more vivid — the greens are greener, the blue sky is bluer — everything is more, quite possibly because we know full well  in our bones that in the blink of an eye the trees will be bare and the arctic wind will be howling.

In the mean time though, we’ll take these glorious days…

IMG_0955and everything they have to give us, even if it’s lots of wind & random rain showers.

Moose, of course, agrees.

IMG_0937I’ve been remembering to let him carry our water on our hikes, too. He clearly feels important when he has a job and it slows him down a little bit on the trails where I need to keep him on a leash. It’s a win-win, really.

We even attended an event put on by the Rock River Archaeological Society in which the kiddos got a chance to try their hands at throwing an atlatl.

IMG_0969I was impressed to see both my kiddos hit the cardboard mammoth at which they were aiming — my daughter with a ferocity far bigger than her frame and my son with thoughtful, measured repetition, both so true to their natures.

My daughter also had a monumental first this weekend…

IMG_0953She learned to purl. She’s easily frustrated, so I’ve been slow to introduce her to purling. She took to it like a fish to water, though.

On my own needles, I was pretty hell-bent on finishing up my son’s Guston sweater…

IMG_0957I started up the second sleeve and really used all my free time to wrap it up and I did just that and I was seaming by Saturday night…

IMG_0960Finishing up the last sewing Sunday morning while my girl read FoxTrot comics to me…

IMG_0967Luckily, yesterday was sunny & warm so I laid it outside to dry and it’s almost totally dry. Only the buttons remain on this — all the ends are woven in and everything. I did have my son try it on and I’ll admit, it was a smidge tight in the shoulders. He’s pretty lanky, but has big shoulders and I made the mistake of using the chest measurement and didn’t account for the shoulders. Long story short, I probably should have gone up a size. I blocked it aggressively and I know wear will stretch it out a little, so here’s hoping those things combined will make it comfy for him. If not, the downside is I’ll be knitting him a new one in the near future, but the upside is that I’m way ahead of the game with a sweater for my daughter to grow into. There’s always a silver lining, right?

I’ll be casting-on the Miya Shawl for the Bijou Basin Ranch Miya Shawl KAL shortly, but I have a little hiccough getting my pattern so I’m taking advantage of this little window in time to play with another fabulous new-to-me yarn, Ancient Arts DK.

 IMG_0888I took this photo the day I received the yarn in the mail — it just so happened that my daughter had drawn in a very cave painting style drawing in coordinating colors just before it arrived, so I snapped a photo with it. It seemed appropriate considering the company’s name. In any case, I showed it off on Periscope and asked viewers if I should make neckwear or a hat with it and it was unanimous that I should go with a cowl — even Mr Knitting Sarah agreed — so after a quick Ravelry search, I pulled out a favorite classic collection, Island by Jane Richmond, and printed off the pretty, unique, drapey cowl, Arbutus.

IMG_0974It’s proving to be a really fast, fun knit for me and I think the necklace-y-ish appearance will make it a really nice addition to my wardrobe. Did I mention the yarn is 70/20/10 Superwash Merino/Cashmere /Nylon?  Yes, I said 20% Cashmere. Yeah, it is pretty much to die for and the beautiful new Great Scott! colorway is a simply scrumptious shade of light blue with just a hint of tealy undertones. If you can’t tell, I can’t wait to add it to my daily rotation of woollies.

I think I’m on track to finish Arbutus today or tomorrow, just in time to cast-on my Miya Shawl. One of these days I’ll get the yard work done, but for now I’m going to enjoy the sun and changing colors and, of course, just a spot of knitting, too.