Friday, 10 June 2011

Pulling it out of the bag

Thanks so much to everyone for their kind comments about the Hypernova (or Hypertension as it was rechristened during the latter phases of its construction...) I still can't quite believe I made it.

You reminded me how much I enjoy blogging as a way of sharing my enjoyment of the textile arts with like minded people so, not having any shortage of subject matter thought I would shock you all with another post in the space of a week. This time I wanted to share with you the enjoyment that I am getting from spinning.

People who have been reading this blog over the years will have seen my first attempts at spinning and will have seen how my enthusiasm and I hope, skills have developed in that time.

Whenever I go to fibre festivals, alongside the skeins of hand dyed yarn there are more and more beautiful braids of hand dyed fibre. Before you know where you are the cupboard is brimming with 100 gram braids of gorgeous colour and texture which I can now spin finely and evenly into a pretty good three ply worsted for socks or a decent heavy lace weight for shawls. This is good - but sometimes you just want to be a bit more free and easy and do something on a bit of a larger scale.

This is where Wingham Wool Works giant batts come in. At this year's Skipnorth event where a party of enthusiastic knitters and spinners go a little 'wool blind and crazy' in Yorkshire for a weekend I came away with a large plastic sack containing a 500g blue grey cloud of grey Falkland fibre blended with blue and green merino. Only part of the batt is on the floor in the following picture but it does give you a sense of scale...

Now I can't claim to be the world's greatest technical spinner so the joy of the batt for me is that it allows itself to be literally thrown at the wheel and some sort of viable yarn seems to emerge. What I was hoping for was a sort of heavy aran verging on a chunky weight yarn without too much twist.



As you can see from the single, the blue and green merino was well blended with the Falkland but still shone through. The resulting yarn was rustic, but reasonable consistent.



The muted, cloudy colours made me think of sea glass on a pebble beach.



The yarn was very quick to spin and because I had consciously worked to minimise the twist, still retained a good deal of spring. I would like to claim that I achieved a semi worsted finish but the process was way more chaotic than that!



The next phase was to decide what to knit. I have to admit that an analysis of my projects would show that I tend towards accessories rather than garments so my first thought was to make a large, warm wrap. I cast on for a Clapotis but soon discovered that the fabric did not have the sort of drape that this project would need. In fact it soon became clear that the finished object would more resemble an ironing board cover than an elegant, Paris inspired wrap. Perhaps I could make a cardigan...



I happen to be a great admirer of Knitting Pure and Simple patterns and was delighted to discover that they are now available to download from the Patternfish website and found a pattern for a cap sleeved long line cardigan which I thought would do the trick. The fabric that I made at the recommended tension made me happy so off I went.



In next to no time the yarn knitted up into a garment that I am really rather pleased with. Hand spun yarn is just such a joy to knit with. I love all the lumps and bumps and variegations but somehow the fabric is still beautiful.



And as a final twist of good luck I rediscovered this shawl pin, bought from Moving Mud at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival a couple of years ago and realised that it made the perfect finishing touch. Made my day!



When I look at this cardi I love thinking about how it used to be a big plastic bag full of fluff and now it's been transformed into something beautiful and practical.


And people ask me why I love knitting and spinning?

12 comments:

Roobeedoo said...

Oh yes - that pin is just perfect! I am so envious of your spinning - to be able to take a lump of fluff, make it into yarn and then knit it into a real garment you can wear! Something for my "to do before I'm 50" list!

diane_s said...

I love stories of sheep to sweater. Absolutely beautiful fiber and spinning and knitting .
Fabulous :)

Rose Red said...

I so admire people who spin and knit their garments! It's just lovely. I love to knit with handspun, but so far I've resisted the lure of the spinning wheel. Although my resistance may be futile!

Pollianicus said...

Looks great.

You are inspiring me to bring out my Wingham Batt too :)

Emma said...

A fantastic project, from start to finish. It looks lovely, especially with that shawl pin.

Stephanie V said...

Your lovely post ahs inspired me to get back to my wheel. Thanks! That cardi just looks so wearable.

flyhoof said...

That's a beautiful cardigan! Lovely pattern and works really well with the yarn you spun. That Wingham batt looks like it was lots of fun! :)

Panhandle Jane said...

Both your spinning and knitting are lovely! Thanks for the info about the Pure and Simple and Patternfish. I'll take advantage of that.

Anonymous said...

That is so gorgeous. I've 500gram on alpaca and merino wool roving sitting waiting for me to spin, and this has truly inspired me. Thanks. Anita

minniemoll said...

Oh, lovely! Well done for having the stamina to spin enough for a cardigan, I always run out of steam!

Anni said...

Very nice. I have two 500gr lots of fibre which I want to spin to make a garmetn for myself. One day when I have time to knit for myself again....

tea and cake said...

That cardi is so lovely! Ooh, I will push myself and get the wheel out again, but I suspect I am years away from having your skill at it!