Sunday, 28 September 2008

Handspun Resolutions

I've been spinning for about eighteen months now and whilst my technical skills are still pretty hit and miss, if I point myself in the general direction of the sort of yarn that I want to spin I can usually produce something usable. As with most skills, the more I learn, the more I realise that there is to learn which is one of the things that keeps me so fascinated with the fibre arts in general.

Today I wanted to show you the range of yarns that I have been spinning and you can see what I mean, both about my hit and miss skills and the infinite variety!

I have now set the twist of the skein of Romney shearling that I made on the drop spindle - about 18 grams of fingering weight which is quite lightly plied but very soft and bouncy as I spun it straight from the lock. I wish you could feel how soft and lustrous this is.

Next, something completely different! This is the batt I bought from Rockpool Candy at the IKnit day spun up on a large drop spindle and Navajo plied. This was so much fun to do. As the batt was very lightly blended and a chaotic mix of merino, corriedale, soya, silk,banana and angelina I decided to tear off strips, fold it down the middle and let the twist run up into the batt, pulling with it whatever it liked to create this glorious confection of heavy aran weight yarn. I have about 90 metres from 100 grams so have reassured myself that I can spin thick yarns if I put my mind to it!

For those of you who find that level of indiscipline hard to cope with here is my next spinning project, the second 100 grams of the Yarn Yard merino silk in the Menthe colourway for my entrelac scarf. This is the second time I have spun merino silk on the Little Gem and I'm much more pleased with the result this time.It's much less over spun and thin and is lovely and glossy and squishy. There are about 150 metres here.

Lastly, here is 50 grams of Blue Faced Leicester dyed in a lovely sepia colour by Pixeldiva which I bought at the Iknit show before last. I am working through the stash slowly but steadily. This has turned out to be a rather lovely sport weight.

As you can see, I have small amounts of hand spun yarn coming out of my ears so one of the things that Natalie and I were talking about in our now infamous late night chats was writing some patterns for small amounts of hand spun yarn. Some people,I must point out, are in a different league to me. Diane Mullholland does this so beautifully and I have eagerly snapped up her tutorials and patterns as she has released them and will be working my way through them diligently as a way of improving my technical skills.

In terms of my own work, I am taking a slightly different approach. I know that I, along with a lot of enthusiastic new spinners, am looking for ideas that celebrate the rough and ready, uneven character of our beloved first yarns. One of the wonderful things that I have noticed is that knitting can be terribly forgiving of an uneven beginners yarn and can still create an interesting and eminently usable fabric from the most unprepossessing piece of hand spun. Just the act of knitting with yarn that you have created yourself from a pile of fluff is such a thrill, and I have certainly learned more about yarn in general by working with something that I know the structure of inch by inch.

So here is what I have been working on and the answer to the button question in my last post. I was heartened that so many of you agreed with me and went for the recycled glass ones although it was a difficult decision. I bought them from a stall at Ally Pally last year but I'm afraid I've forgotten the name of it.

This neck piece was inspired by the Scholar Collar that Brookyntweed created. I know that he is a great advocate of garter stitch but I find it quite a difficult stitch to use in a garment as whilst it is simple to work and doesn't curl it doesn't hold its shape well. I was working with about 150 metres of Yarn Yard merino silk spun to about an aran weight so with an already drapy yarn I wanted a stitch with a bit more structure so I used this waffle rib which is very simple to work but makes the fabric more solid and, I think, shows of the variegated yarn very well.

I am trying this pattern out with a commercial yarn after which I will pop it up on the blog as a freebie. I have a few more ideas of things to do with eccentric hand spun so watch this space!


Diane said...

I love your collar - the waffle stitch is perfect :-)and fab buttons too.

LittleBerry said...

the collar is lovely and practical too... there is a definite shortage of patterns that can utilize 100g of spun fibre!!!

=Tamar said...

Please share more ideas of what to do with small amounts of handspun! I don't spin but a friend does and she gave me her early efforts years ago; they still await something worthy of the mixture of fine material and good yet still beginner spinning.

Arianne said...

Your spinning is 100% better than mine! And also, I like your choice of buttons!

Anni said...

Gorgeous yarns and the collar is beautiful. Love the look of the first white yarn. You can see the softness.