Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some recent spinning projects...


...and a word (well, several) of warning:

Be sure to add enough twist to your singles!
(For an answer to the question "Why do you mention this?" see my note for the last yarn, below.)

First: Thanks so much for all the nice comments about my Printed Silk Cardigan!

So far I'm surviving law school, and finding it pretty darn interesting - which is always good when you decide to devote a good chunk of your life to something :) I spun all three of these yarns BEFORE I started, however. I need to work on "working in" more spinning time here and there, now that I've got so little "free" time on my hands...

Handspun Yarn I: Mermaid

Fiber: Enchanted Knoll Farm Wool/Silk/Recycled sari silk/Angelina Farm-Raised Roving
Stats: 727 yards (74 g), ~25 wpi (lace weight)
Ply: single ply


Handspun Yarn II: Give Me Roses

Fiber: Enchanted Knoll Farm Cotswold/Merino/Bamboo/Silk/Recycled sari silk/Angelina Farm-Raised Batts
Stats: 483 yards (84 g), ~22 wpi (lace weight)
Ply: 2-ply


Handspun Yarn III: Artichoke

Fiber: Spunky Eclectic Corriedale/Alpaca Roving, colorway "Lichen"
Stats: 700 yards (109 g), ~20 wpi (lace weight)
Ply: 2-ply


An, ahem, extended note about this last yarn... which took me a little over 2 months to complete:

I initially spun it thinking I would leave it as a lace weight single. The fiber drafted beautifully, and while spinning I had a few instances of breakage, but nothing to be worried about (I thought). Then I decided it would be a really lovely 2-ply, instead of a single. When I started plying, all hell broke loose (more or less literally).

Every meter or so (sometimes even more frequently) a ply would drift apart, causing me to stop and reattach it. After a while (which actually enveloped a rather large chunk of time), I was extremely frustrated, having made so little progress in the face of serial-breakage. I thought, fine - it doesn't have enough twist in it to ply (you ply in the opposite direction, which removes twist from the singles), it needs to remain a single - so I stopped and tried to wind the singles off onto my niddy noddy. The singles broke again, and again... and again.... So I thought, OK then - I'll just run the singles back through my wheel, adding more twist. More breakage ensued - ack!

This had never happened to me before, and I was suddenly unsure of everything. Was there something wrong with the fiber (which had seemed quite pleasant to work with when I initially spun my singles)? Was it me? At this point the intransigent singles were inhabiting 4 of the 5 bobbins I owned (the two I'd spun the singles on, the plying bobbin, and another regular bobbin from when I'd tried to add more twist to the singles). I was stuck, and I didn't see a way to spin anything else (to renew my spinning confidence) without removing (and thereby destroying) my pretty but non-coherent singles.

I didn't spin for weeks... and weeks.

Finally, desperate to finish my yarn, I decided that my only hope was, indeed, adding more twist to the singles. I approached this cautiously, and with some trial and error, I found that adjusting the intake, treadling more slowly, and watching like a hawk that the tension on the singles coming off my lazy kate and running through my fingers remained consistent, I was able to slowly work through the remaining singles a bobbin at a time with much less frequent breakage.

I was surprised just how much additional twist I needed to add - I had significantly underspun the singles!

Finally, I plied them together (with little incident!), and I'm happy to say, I was able to rescue my yarn (with some wastage, to be sure, but nothing like the total loss I thought I had on my hands at one point).

All I can say is - Phew!

(and... be sure to add enough twist to your singles!!!!!)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Embossed coral goodness!


Printed Silk Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio

  • Brooks Farm Yarn Solo Silk 50% wool, 50% silk (400 yards / 113 g per skein), ~2.41 skeins, color "SW" (coral)

  • US 3 (3.25 mm) Addi Turbo Circular Needle
  • US 2 (2.75 mm) KnitPicks Circular Needle (for neckline and upper button band ribbing)

Hi again! Here's another in my series of sporadic postings :)

I started law school at UC Berkeley a few weeks ago, so my knitting and blogging time remains limited. However, I have a decently long bus ride (45-50 minutes each way) to and from school every day, so when I'm not madly trying to finish up reading before class or having to stand (clinging to a bar for dear life - lets just say the bus drivers get away things I would never accept as a passenger in a car) because it's so crowded, I have some nice, built-in knitting time :)

I had been wanting to knit this pattern for a while and got the yarn for it over a year ago at Maryland Sheep and Wool, but finally went ahead and took the plunge.


The Solo Silk is truly lovely stuff - smooth and soft, with a beautiful sheen and great depth of color. It has amazing yardage, hence I only used a little less than two and a half skeins. Of note, the dye did bleed when I soaked my sweater before blocking. However, comparing my leftover (unwashed) yarn to the sweater, I don't notice a decrease in saturation at all. Overall, I'm very satisfied with it.


My ongoing wacky gauge issues (I generally knit pretty loosely) and my desire to have a more fitted sweater (smaller than the smallest pattern size) led me to make some adjustments to stitch counts, etc., but otherwise I knit it essentially as written, with two exceptions. The first is that I didn't do the bust increases within the patterned portion, and the second is that I waited to start the neckline shaping for an extra inch and a half, so that my neckline scooped less deeply than the original. I also added a single crochet edging to the lower border of the sweater after sewing up, because that edge was curling like crazy. It seems to have done the trick - post washing and blocking the edge lays pretty flat :)

Here is a characteristic blocking shot with anti-cat devices (i.e. excessive, frequently placed T-pins, which weren't really needed to facilitate blocking per se, at least in the absence of cats) in place to prevent feline trespass:


(You can see that Bug appears to be considering whether it might be worth it to learn to sleep on a bed of nails, as it were. Really... who would want to sleep on a padded chair seat with a damp bed of silky wool so close at hand? It would be nice, at least, to massage with ones toes...)

Some close-ups:


I purchased the vintage glass buttons at Britex in San Francisco. My husband read about it online, and thought I might like to go there to check out their extensive button selection (organized by color!) in addition to the four floors of fabrics, trimmings, and even a small yarn selection. He was right :) Definitely worth a field trip!

Here's a slightly closer view:


I think the only thing I would do differently if I were to make this sweater again is to use an even smaller needle for the ribbing at the neckline. It would be nice if the neck opening was a little tighter, but works as is just fine.

Thanks for the great pattern, Connie :)
(Actually, she has a lot of great patterns - and I fully intend to knit more of them in the future!)

Have a wonderful labor day weekend!