Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where did that week go?

Ever have one of those weeks where some how, the week is gone and there isn't much to show for it? There are times that I think my whole life is a bit like that, and the older I get the more time seems to fly and the less time I seem to have. Today there is a new project, specially requested by Bear, and an old project comes closer to ending, and there are new toys.

Bears A-kicking hat in Stansborough grey
Bear has very little hair, he won't mind me saying that, I know as I asked. What hair he does have he keeps very short, military short, clipped. Its been like that for a while, a long while. Here in New Zealand we have two factors that combine and raise the risk of skin cancer, much of the population is genetically disposed towards fair skin, the kind that burns easily, and not just in the midday sun. Add to that here in New Zealand the light that we get seems richer in the kind of wavelengths that cause damage to the skin. Don't panic, its not cancer, but there are some little spots that won't heal that Bears doctor wants to remove. Years of exposure to the sun has created skin that is almost to thin to take standard wear and tear and the treatment is to remove the skin and let new thicker skin grow. Bear is a sensitive sort and dosn't want to expose his head to the view of the world while it heals so requested a hat that could be worn indoors. We had a shared Ravelry session, where quite a few patterns were viewed and considered, many were rejected and we both felt that Elliots Ass-kicking hat by Megan Ellinger was the one. Then I invited Bear to view the stash drawers that held suitable yarn - and this is what he picked. Stansbourgh Yarn, 4 ply in natural grey. I'd link to the yarn itself but it was bought a few years ago and they don't do this one any more, just a DK / light worsted weight.

Edging Banjo-Helen's baby blanket.

Most of this week I've been knitting on the hat, seemed only fair that it be completed quickly. Bear wants to book a session with his doctor soon. Before I was distracted by the hat, I begun the edge on Banjo-Helen's baby blanket. I hope to have this done by the end of next week. Next weekend is the local Knit Camp - and I'm wanting to take something smaller with me to work on outside of class. The sanquhar mitts perhaps? Start a cardigan for me, start one for little cub ... start something for my secret swap partner, finish the socks on the needles? I've no idea what will be next but just thinking about what it could be is fun.
New toys, a pair being two makes it toys plural  doesn't it?
And here is my new toy, so new that I've not even brushed fibre past them. A pair of Howard Hand Cards, fine 120 TPI, standard sized, from The, shipping was almost the same cost as the carders themselves.  I've been looking at carder prices and shipping for three or so years now and with the current favorable New Zealand exchange rate I was able to by the carders with shipping for a little less than the cost that the carders alone would have been three years ago. I had to take a bit of a leap and risk, not being able to discuss hand carders much here, most locals have Ashford ones, and few spin woolen, and not being able to try different brands and styles before I bought. The Howard ones seemed good value for money without going for a student model, and a nice compromise between curved and straight. The more I looked the more there seemed to be a clear preference amongst those who use hand carders for either straight or curved. I'm waiting for a dvd to arrive to guide me, How to Card Wool: Four Spinners, Four Techniques before I start of and learn bad habits. Some times I just like to let the excitement rest while I look forward and plan to use new things rather than jump in and get all muddled. I thought since I was enjoying playing with spinning worsted that a pair of hand carders and a little tuition might be a good thing. The carders arrived within 4 days, the DVD was order first and I'm still waiting on it, I can wait - there is plenty to do.

This week looks like another busy week, lots to get through at work, there is another big hand in for students,  and so a pile of marking for me, and student presentations this Monday. Plus I'm nearly done on the next article for Entangled ... this one is on workbooking and keeping records of ones crafting. I'd best head off and finish that before Little cubs friends descend for a play date this afternoon and distract me.

Take care
na Stella

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some of this, and some of that ....

and I'm really feeling the need for more hours in my days and weeks just to play with all the things that I want to play with. I spent some time knitting and some time dying this week, and even started on a new and tempting hobby activity. 

The knitting is fairly monogamous right now, just the Banjo blanket, and pretty much going round and round and wondering when is a good time to stop and add an edge. Of course that involves making a decision about the edge, either the one from the pattern, or a side-knit band that matches the corner increases. And then there is a decision to make about proportions, I'm thinking twice as much burnt orange and brown is a good proportion for the edge colour.

Thursday little cub had friends around, and I wanted to leave them to their own play as much as possible. I like the idea that they are old enough not to need an adult to direct their play. Doing that mean I wanted to sort something for me to do, nothing so interesting that they would all want to join in, so stamping was out. I just knew any use of stamps with owls and flowers and frogs and colorful inks would result in requests to join in. So I opted for dying, I worked away for most of the day, worked is very much an overstatement as my dying involves leaving the pot for 20-30 minutes between different dyes being added, and not stirring or mucking the fibre about to much. Pretty much walking a short distance away and doing something else like knit. A whole day  and this is the result, four 100g merino top plaits, and two 150g perendale top plaits.

I had been inspired by the fibre dyed by Fibre Optics, the gradient dyed top is stunning, and I love the idea of a yarn that shifts from one colour to another. Her shop was bare, at the time I was there so I played. There was much play and a lot of learning and I found that whatever she is doing -- it was not what I was doing, as I had to return fibre to the pot and add more dye. Almost every batch had undyed patches when first removed from the pot. I suspect that her dye vat is larger than my dye pot, and that there is room for the fibre to be spread out a little more. Perhaps I should try 50g batches? And one day I might perfect more subtle colours ... something with less punch?

Some weeks ago I picked up a Paper recycling kit, and this week the cubas and I made paper. We used printer waste and two sheets of the deep purple tissue that VP yarn comes wrapped in. I was pleasantly surprised, we were successful. One side is smooth and the other has the mesh pattern from the screen, and the pale purple is rather pretty. The tissue didn't dissolve as I thought it would, instead resulting in deep purple feathers,  but did leak a huge amount of dye. All up this took us slighlty less than an afternoon, involved two cubs and I, and  was heaps of fun. So much so I'm looking forward to doing more of this. I've already had to stop myself pricing deckles, and I really had to stop myself pushing the buy now when I found a set that had not only A4 and A5 sized paper but an envelope shaped deckle as well to make matching envelopes with. I don't have enough room for the stuff I have now .. so really shouldn't be adding more on a one afternoon whim. Besides we already have a perfectly good  kit and it works just fine.

Which brings me back to where I began, wanting more hours in my days and more days in my weeks just to play with all this fun stuff.  If any one has answers please share.
Take care ...

na Stella

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finished project and new project

My largest lace shawl to date is finished, all done. The ends are woven in, there were only two, one at the beginning and one at the end. The lace is blocked and open and dried, luckily before today's rain. the loose stitch that was spotted was isolated and woven in as neatly as I could, trying to match the pattern. With that project done, and off the needles there was all the excitement of choosing a new project, and I had fun this week. I dithered over which of two projects should be next, swatching and swatching for one, and then put that aside as I couldn't decide what to do and started another.

Deciduous shawl blocked, and finished,
Here is the shawl, and its statistics, Pattern is Deciduous Lace Shawl by Evelyn Clarke,  knit in Touch Yarns Lace  Kid Merino 2 ply. The yarn is hand dyed deep brown-green but has hints of purple here and there. I started January 1st 2012, finished April 16th 2012. I have no idea how some people knit 12 shawls in a year ... no idea at all. Finished blocked measurement = 64” across tip to tip and 33” from start to center tip, I probably blocked it larger but it has relaxed a little. I read that some people leave lace blocking for three days - to remove the potential for such a relaxation. I  didn't do that this time, but might next time. I love how shear the lace is now and the small leaf pattern really has a three dimensional effect- looking almost like small bubbles or stones. 
Deciduous shawl - the tapered ends
The corners blocked out nicely, I initially worried that the stocking stitch lace that framed the shawl would result in curling. I contacted two Ravelers who had knit this ... and both said that curling was not a problem so I trusted in the pattern and finished it as suggested. To date there has been no curl. The final edge is a simple crochet cast off, with loops. That makes the shawl fairly easy to block, sliding blocking rods through each loops and pinning the shawl out flat and symmetrical.
Claire cardigan - integrating the crochet and the knitting.

With the shawl off the needles I started looking for a new project. I have two cardigan sets of sock yarn sitting ready to knit a cardigan with. One in steel grey and one in burnt orange. I fell in love with the Clair cardigan listed on Ravelry, but sadly wasn't able to buy the pattern, I did track down someone who had knit it and traded for their copy of the pattern. Something about the cardigan just appealed. The shape is very much like a store bought cardigan I wear with dresses, and I loved the lace detail around the collar. When the pattern arrived I realized that what I had thought was lace worked as part of the cardigan was a crochet over layer, almost like a flat collar stitched onto the cardigan after it was knit. I wondered if the lace could be integrated into the cardigan and started to play. That of course meant updating my basic crochet skills using Youtube and other online tutorials so I could make sense of the charted crochet design. I also was attempting to reguage the cardigan from sport weight yarn to sock weight yarn. I worked the crochet on a 3mm hook, and worked at picking up and knitting from the edge, and it worked. I've swatched the raglan shaping on 2.75mm needles , and a 2x2 rib on 2.5mm needle. I'm also planning to swatch on 3mm and 3.5mm just to see what guage I like best. 
3mm and 2mm sampling of crochet lace in sock yarn
The Clair cardigan is bottom up, and knit in pieces, but I plan to knit mine top down and seamless. Given the cardigan isn't particularly high necked I thought the crotchet lace was a little bold, would take up to much of the shoulder and look odd unless I had a dress with an even lower neckline underneath it. So I've re-swatched the lace on a 2mm needle, and I like this better, its firmer and denser in a good way. I'm also looking for a result where the crochet stitches are the same scale and size as the knit stitches. The crotchet on 2mm swatch is smaller and  forms a more dramatic curve - so I've stalled as I think about how to make it less curved.  I'm using odds and ends of pale sock yarn - the same brand of yarn the cardigan will be in, which is nice, I can swatch and swatch and have lots to swatch with.
My Dirty Rainbow yarn
With my highly modified version of the Clair cardigan in the Thinking-chair, while I ponder my next move I started my second project for the week. Now there is more than one Helen in my world, there is embroidery Helen, and lace knitting Helen. Both those Helens knit but one is known for her embroidery, then there is Banjo Helen, who works with Bear and also is a knitter, but has started to play the Banjo. Banjo-Helen is having a baby and is moving to Wanaka - and it is cold there in the winter, it snows. I love to knit baby blankets, and handpspinning seems the right material for a brand new baby that a family has spend 9 months making and will be living where the snow lies on the ground there is skiing. That leads me to my second new project for the week, a slightly modified version of Knitspots Rosebuddie, this time knit in three different worsted weight handspun yarns. The first yarn I've called My dirty Rainbow, as it was intended to be a rainbow but seemed dirty in a good warm way.
Banjo Helen - the baby blanket, warm and thick,
As the colour changes are vibrant I'm omitting the rosebuds on the body of the blanket, but working the lace corner increases as charted. Right now I've incorporated 100 grams of woolen spun merino, followed by 100 grams of Pitt Island Merino from a spinning swap some years back, and now I'm working on the final burnt orange border. This is in orange Romney. I love the way the corner increases are worked in this blanket, and plan to start the final edge as per the pattern soon.

Once Banjo-Helen's blanket is done I think I might be ready for another play with the Clair cardigan pattern. I'm on leave this week but haven't done anywhere as much as I planned.  I used to worry about that but now just  accept that I will always plan to do more than I have time for. I've made lots of starts, there is a dress for little cub and a dress for me - both half sewn, and two new projects, and we have had visitors several time and will again. It has been a good holiday ...and today I have cut a deal with both cubs. If they tidy their rooms properly, clear and sweep under their  beds and the rooms surfaces are clear and clean, with most of their  things away in the right places ... we will head of to town and go to a movie. I won't be able to knit in the movie, but tonight is knit night and I'll knit more there.

Take care
na Stella

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Aura - the spinning wheel review

I promised some time ago that I would review the Aura spinning wheel I had been loaned, to the best of my ability, I've finished spinning and plying my Aura project and its time for the wheel to go home to Vintage Purls.  In full disclosure - the wheel was on loan from Vintage Purls, and was not solicited, nor were any payments made.
The Aura, by Majacraft,  is a treadle spinning wheel with a drive system that is neither Double drive or Single tension, the two main style of drive system in use. Officially Majacraft describe the Aura as a new kind of double drive, as it has two drive bands not the doubled drive band more common on double drive wheels.

I had the Aura in my house for over two months, and spun some and plied some, at the same time I had a project on another wheel as a comparison. What did I think of it and would I buy one? Should you buy one? Read on and see.

Before the review I thought I'd better list my spinning wheel experience, so to frame my review in fuller context. In my house there are usually five wheels, I currently have two  wheels, bought as new A large Grace and a Majacraft Gem II. I once bought a new DD Ashford Traveller but quickly sold it .. the wheel didn't seem to have the personality that I wanted in a wheel - I found it bland to use in comparison to other wheels I had. I also currently have two vintage wheels, a Phillip Poore Pippy Saxony and a Wing Upright - both date from the 1980s and both are double drive. My daughter has an upright Woodspin Nagy, which is scotch tension.  I have also owned a Rappard Peggy, but like the ashford sold it - nothing wrong with the Peggy and it wasn't as bland as the Traveler but I preferred the other wheels in my stable. The Peggy had the advantage of being able to run as either double  or single drive.  To be totally honest there are also another two wheels in my house right now, a modified Baines and a home made electric spinner - both are looking for new homes so for the purposes of this review don't count. My dad found them and thought I could find homes for them.

Here is the Aura lined up between my Majacraft Gem II and my Grace. The Grace is a big wheel and should not be confused with the Little Grace, I was told the Grace was a a 'studio wheel' and not for out and about and it is, I wouldn't want to manipulate my Grace in and out of a car for fear of damage to the wheel or the car or me. The Grace has a  inch wheel 21 inches across and 1.5 inches in thickness. That makes for a weighty wheel that gains a good deal of momentum, the Grace  stands 38" tall. The Little Gem II is by comparison 29 inches tall and has a 9 inch wheel. In its defense the Little Gem is intended as a folding traveling wheel, and is quite compact and portable. The Aura stands up to 33 inches tall.  These three wheels are all designed to use both feet, the Majacraft with alternate treadling (the feel almost cycle - one up and one down)  and the Grace with synchronous treadling (both feet move in the same direction at the same time). All these wheels have almost solid wood or wood laminated wheels, so heavy wheels, but as noted the size of the wheels varies greatly.
Of course height isn't everything, and most spinners will be able to spin on most wheels. What I do find interesting is the difference in heights of the orifice of each wheel. My tallest wheel is the Grace and the orifice is 31.5 inches from the floor, which suits me fine, as I'm tallish (5ft 7ish on a good day). The Aura by comparison is 29 inches, nearly the same, whilst the Little Gem is only 26 inches from the floor. My shortest wheel is the Pippy with the orifice positioned at 24 inches from the floor, the Wing has a pigtail rather than an orifice and that sits at 30 inches. In practice I find the most of these wheels comfortable to spin on, despite the range in orifice heights. I guess that I adjust my hand position to where it needs to be, and I don't worry to much if the yarn is held at an angle to the orifice. I'm not a spinning purist.  With both the Aura and the Grace, the orifice height can be adjusted a few inches up or down, depending on the drive band and the whorl used, with the others the height is pretty much fixed.

So the Aura, well its a medium sized wheel, that folds small, tidily so, and has a lovely smooth and well positioned handle. Folded the Aura is a bare 2 feet tall (23 inches) and 22 inches across.  Very portable, I'd say as portable as the Little Gem, in a different way. The Gem takes up less room footprint wise in a car, it fits into a flattish bag that doesn't take up a car a seat space or nearly half the boot/trunk. But for weekly visits to spin groups if you had a spare seat in the car or space in the boot/trunk the Aura would be fantastic. Why? Well it is a slightly heavier wheel so holds more momentum and is nicer to use. As for treadling, compared to the double treadle Gem, the wee traveling take apart wheel,  the Aura is magic to treadle. The treadle is smooth, and has a solid quality heavy feel, I don't mean heavy in terms of use but heavy in terms of stability and smoothness. There is a nice solidness to the construction, and the diamond face plate that faces the spinner just adds to the sense that this is a wheel built to last, and one that will work well for a long useful life.
And that different drive system? As a spinner who has used and understands both double drive and single drive wheels, the set up seems in theory similar. To change the speed of twist adjust the drive band that controls that onto a different whorl, or treadle faster, or both. To change the speed at which the yarn is drawn onto the bobbin - adjust the band that controls the bobbin - either with the band tension adjustment or changing the whorl. In practice there is a an amazing range of balance points when adjusting both, and an equally amazing range of unbalance points. By balance points I mean settings where the draw in and the twist speed are such that spinning can happen, ditto unbalance points - settings that make spinning difficult. There are also other little things to watch for, like making sure the bobbin is seated properly. One of the main difference is that in this Aura system the bobbin isn't driven by a drive band, rather a bobbin whorl is driven by a drive band and the spin transferred to the bobbin via a drive shaft. To make sure there is no slip in the transfer - the bobbin has little pins at one end that lock into place on the drive mechanism, and if the wee pins are not locked into place - well the bobbin won't do what you think it should. The simplest mechanical  adjustment is to the take up, which is modified with a screw that increases or decreases the tension in the bobbin drive band. Turn it one way and the yarn pulls in faster, turn it the other and it pulls in slower. there are other adjustments which involved moving either drive band onto different whorls, or even the spinning head up or down using a Allen key to increase the flier drive band tension. Of coures like all wheels there are non-mechanical adjustments, like treadling faster or slower, or drafting faster or slower.

The main advantage of the Aura over other wheels is that it was specifically designed to spin a huge range of yarn styles, everything from lace to chunky art yarns like those by Plucky Fluff or Jacey Boggs. Yarns that have slubs, beehives and beads and even felted decorative eyeballs and sushi. Because of that the wheel has two deliberate features to help adventurous spinners. Huge bobbins, and really generous threading guides on the flier and orifice. The guides have spaces an inch across meaning you can (should you want to) spin yarn up to an inch thick, or yarns that have bits an inch thick. The bobbins are huge, I spun just over 150 grams onto one and it was only half full .... I chain plied it onto another and it was still only half full. Here I've shown the Aura bobbins (with their distinctive wooden ends and black groove) next to a standard Majacraft bobbin which easily holds 200 grams, and behind that a more traditionally sized bobbin - which holds just over 50 grams. The Aura bobbins are huge ... perfect for plying or making chunky yarns, and will as a result make rather large skeins. Initially I was enamored with the idea of making skeins that were large, I liked the notion of knitting with unbroken lengths of yarn. In retrospect I'm not sure that huge skeins are that easy to deal with, most ball winders won't wind that much, and really knitting from a large cake of yarn isn't as much fun as you would think.

So - what do I think of the Aura and would I buy one?
Well, if I was in the market for a new wheel it could be on my shopping list, it is expensive, but so was the Grace (in fact the Grace was far more expensive but it was made to order and has my name carved into it). I'm not looking for a wheel right now so this is a totally hypothetical  question. If I was looking for the wheel that would be my main wheel and had saved up for a good wheel, and was ordering online .... I'd probably be swayed by the huge range of yarns the Aura is able to spin, the fact it folds up for easy porting would be a plus.
Then again, to be honest after living with the Aura in my home and out to spinning for two months, and looking at what I like to spend my time spinning, I might consider other wheels. Here in New Zealand we have a good range of spinning wheel manufactures, the ubiquitous Ashford, the other little wheel maker in Ashburton,  the Baines, and Majacraft, plus the custom wheels of Mike Keeves. In the rest of the world there are other manufacturers, shops stock other brands beside the Ashford and Majacraft, such as Schact, Lendrum, Louette, Kromsky, and too many others to list. Here in New Zealand trying or buying  one of those is just too difficult and the  shipping to expensive unless travelling to the States.  And traveling to the states isn't cheap, so most spinners don't head of the US when they want to buy a wheel. Short story is in my neck of the woods I'd be picking a wheel from Ashford, Mike Keeves and Majacraft and I can only frame my review in terms of what I know. I suspect I'd plump for a Majacraft Suzie Standard ( or pro if I was feeling like a spurge - its a teeny bit more $ but has a heavier wheel) - honestly the Suzies are all the wheel I need and want, and they fold and transport just as easily, treadle as smoothly at one quarter less the price of the Aura. In fact in my neck of the wood the Suzie is only a tad bit more than a Gem so if I wasn't looking for a travelling wheel, one I could fly with, I'd buy the Suzie - no hesitation.

Should you buy an Aura? Maybe .. if you spin a lot, or spin a large variety of yarns, if you love fancy yarns and want a wheel that you can easily take out to spin groups - then this could be the wheel for you. If you are frustrated at wheels that need constant tweaking just to run smoothly  and that feel like your wheel bits and parts are always working loose or about to break - this wheel is made for you. If you are a timid spinner who is frightened to touch an adjustment or move to a different whorl - then this wheel could make or break you. You will either love it and learn how to use it .. or drive yourself mad with worry over having to adjust it. If you are the kind of person who likes new things, who adores new technology and craves new experiences - then this is probably the wheel for you. The Aura seems to be one of the hot new toys of the spinning world  right now and it will generate interest any where you spin on it, many spinners have seen the announcements, and the adverts but not many  not seen or tried the Aura wheel in person - you could be the first in your group, and a trend setting spinner for your area. You could be the spinner that the others envy.

One last thing - I've meet the Owen and Glynis Poad, the family that are Majacraft,  and they are lovely people, Glynis hangs out in the Majacraft thread on Ravelry and is  there to respond to questions and provide help. I've not experienced any problems with my Gem or with the Aura ... but I have no doubt that if I did they would do all they could to make things right.

So - I'll be handing the Aura back this Monday, there will be a pang of regret when I do, at what I could achieve with it. Those jumbo skeins and the minute adjustments that would allow me to spin anything I can imagine, if I can get my head around what to tweak where. So no,  I haven't started a savings account to buy one, but if I didn't already have a Grace wheel ... I would be saving up and considering one of Majacrafts larger wheels, and Suzie.

On the knitting front, Deciduous is nearly done, only the crochet edge to finish, and then blocking. I'm on leave this week - but the cubs will be underfoot and I have made some promises around baking, and paper making and sewing new things ... still it will all be fun.

take care
na Stella

Saturday, April 07, 2012

That nagging feeling

Last night I frogged my lace knitting, I pulled the work from the needles and carefully frogged the last 11 rows of lace. I didn't do this lightly, for nine of the eleven rows something had been bothering me. I had that nagging knitting feeling.
Last Wednesday I worked the last of the small leaf repeats that make up the body of the Deciduous Shawl, then I started to work the Large Leaf boarder. I worked from the first edge to the central stitch and was greatly pleased to find that my stitch  count was perfect. Then worked the second half of the shawl and discovered that when I worked the decreases they lined up perfectly on on of the small leaf repeats. How odd I thought that had not happened when I knit the first side. So I put down my yarn and counted my way across the shawl - making sure I had worked according to the chart on the first row of the Large Leaf pattern. I suspected that I was a stitch or two out, that can happen sometimes with lace weight yarn, the yarn is so fine that two stitches cling together and trick me into thinking that they are one. I counted, and looked, and things seemed fine, so I decided I must have been mistaken and so I kept on knitting the chart. As I knit the rest of the chart there was an increasing sense of wonder that each row worked out perfectly, the decreases and eyelets all lined up with the first row - I was beginning to think that  maybe I was improving at this lace work, that I could read a chart and count and knit all at the same time.

On the left - my mistake, out by one stitch, on the right - well the right side of the shawl
Then as I finished working the eleventh row I realized that the leaves on the two halves of the shawl looked very different. The right of the image shows how the leaves looked on the right side of the shawl, when the large leaves were placed perfectly over the small leaves, and there was a perfectly positioned small leaf continuing up between each large leaf. The other side of the shawl was comparatively a mess, in that two strands of small leaves sort of mashed up into a hybrid leaf between the large leaves, and the large leaves were distorted. The distortion was a result of each large leaf not being centered over a trio of small leaves.I realized that not only was the lace not lined up but not being lined up was creating more mess than I imagined it would.
Each row that I knit confirmed in a small way that something was wrong with that one side of the shawl, and even more that the second side was perfect... and try as I might I could not continue to ignore it. I had visions of wearing the shawl and having to make sure that the 'perfect' side was always the one that that was wrapped on top so it would hide the imperfect side. I knew I could photographed and block the shawl and hide the mess from you all .. but I would know, and those who knit closer to home would know.

So I frogged, ripped it back, which is easy to say and type but much harder to do. Ripping took an entire evening, and had many moments where I wondered if I had stuffed up completely and would be frogging the entire thing. I carefully pulled out the knitting needles, carefully pulled back one row at at time until I was 9 rows back. Then I slid all the live stitches onto a needle, once safely parked I breathed a huge sigh of relief. At any point before that I was aware that had anything snagged the yarn, a loose movement of my hand, foot, cup-of-tea, or the cat, or the other end of the needle,  I would have had a sudden unravel of uncontrolled size and I didn't need that kind of drama. As worked from one end to the other making sure that all the stitches were oriented the right way, then I tinked the last 2 rounds one stitch at a time. At the end of the evening I was worn out, worn to a frazzle, but happy. I did one last transfer of stitches from right to left needle as I made sure that what I had matched the last row of the small lace chart perfectly.

The first time I knit the large leaf boarder it took two days, so the frogging and reknit will add 3 days work .. not much considering I cast on the day after Christmas and now we are in April.  Best think about all of this is that I had the Easter break to focus on fixing it, so I didn't have to abandon it and head out to work .... I had time to settle in and fix it.

Take care - hope your weekend knitting involves a lot less frogging and tinking than mine.
na Stella

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New yarn - two kinds

Another quick post, Bear had an early work meeting and then a long day so my today was eaten up by transporting cubs to school, working, then being the after school parent. Being the  after school parent mostly means transporting cubs from after school music to swimming, then home... but also involes making sure things happen on time, no one is late and that the right equipment is packed, is clean, tidy and carried there(not left in the hall),  then taken away home again. Tiring stuff this parenting, but worth it when one sees ones cub easily making music in a group or with a nice freestyle stroke in the pool.

Anyway - the blog is about the knitting, and today it is about the  stuff that allows knitting, yarn. I have been knitting - but mostly spinning. I borrowed another bobbin for the Aura wheel and plied both the single yarns that were waiting. That done there should be a wheel review over Easter,  the plying was the last part of the preparation towards a review. I have been knitting, mostly on the  Deciduous shawl, but as it is just repeat after repeat the photos really don't show any recognizable progress, I will leave a display of that until another time.

Worsted (left) and Woolen (right) spun 3 ply yarns - both merino

Here are the two plied yarns, both chain plied, and I think I may have finally mastered plying. Before this my yarns tended to be under-plied, and so a little string like in appearance. By under-plied I mean that there was not enough twist in the yarns to make them look plump and squishy like this, my skeins always hung straight which is one measure of a balanced yarn, but they didn't look plump and squishy.  Because they hung straight I considered them plied enough and didn't quite know what to do to make them more yarn like and less string like. This time it all came together and my yarn is fat and plump.  The yarn on the left is a graduated superwash merino, changing from deep red, through orange, to yellow and then blue, but mostly it is blue. The initial fibre was bought at KAN last year. Superwash is slippery stuff to spin, so the singles seemed to need a bit of twist and I was worried that the yarn would be even more string like than usual so this is a pleasant surprise. The yarn on the right is merino dyed by Maude and Me, and gifted by Sourkraut, it is merino and was dyed the most amazing range of colours. I turned the fibre into Faux rolags and spun it woolen style.
Worsted (left) and Woolen (right) hand spun, 3 ply, merino
Close up the Worsted yarn(left) is smoother and has less of a halo, the Woolen(right) is much fuzzier and seems to have more squish. Technically the worsted should have more air - and be warmer but les durable, feeling them that seems right. Both are destined for baby blankets, the one on the right for a baby due in August, the one of the left destined to sit with an already finished pink one until a suitable baby is announced. Over all I recognize my Woolen spinning needs more practice ... but I like the technique and the effect of this woolen spinning and I'm keen to try more.

Thursday tomorrow, then  a long weekend, followed by school holidays - feels like there might be some knitting time amidst all of that somewhere.

take care
na Stella