Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brace yourselves for actual knitting

Although I claim to be a knitter and crocheter, lately this has turned into a complete spinning blog. (Actually, I'm not sure I've ever blogged about crocheting, except for my infamous knitting vs. crochet yarn consumption experiment. Hmm, maybe I need to start a crochet project...) Apparently I'm not much of a multi-tasker.

In any case, I come to you today with actual proof that I do still knit. I give you Exhibit A:

hs ur socks done
Pattern: Undulating Rib Socks by Ann Budd (from IK's Favorite Socks)
Yarn: my own handspun (100% merino)
Needles: 1.50 mm DPNs (US 000)

hs ur socks macro
Even though I've spun approximately 35 skeins of yarn, this is only the second time I've actually knit with my own handspun. I really need to slow down with the spinning slightly, because knitting with handspun is just plain awesome. Awesome, I tell you!

And yes, I did knit these on 1.5 mm needles at approximately 11 stitches per inch. Why? Well, the yarn was fairly fine to begin with, although still very much a fingering weight. Also, this wool is not superwash, and I figure tightly knit socks are less likely to felt than loosely knit socks. Most importantly, though, is that I want these socks to last. After all, I took all the trouble to spin and knit them, so I want the Professor to get lots of good wear out of them. (I've warned him repeatedly about the washing machine too.)

hs ur socks inside
This is actually the second time I've knit this pattern (well, sort of), but I think this pattern is really fantastic for self-striping handspun yarns. My friend Angeluna knitted a pair from Sock Hop last year, and I have admired them ever since. So when I was trying to decide on a suitable sock pattern for handspun, this one immediately came to mind.

The other thing I like about this pattern? It looks good on both sides. The photo above shows the wrong side, and the following photo gives a side-by-side view of the right and wrong sides. Both look great, and it's a good thing too. The Professor sometimes can't tell whether his handknit socks are inside out.

hs ur socks compare
With this project complete, I've been fantasizing about bigger knitting projects—namely, sweaters. Even though I haven't knit many sweaters, I do have sweater quantities of yarn in the stash. Time to dig in, I think.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

The weather here in Texas is still decidedly summer-like, but I'm more than ready for autumn. Before moving here I had always lived in places where September meant the beginning of cooler weather, so being this warm at this time of year feels downright unnatural. My most recent spinning seems to reflect my desire for a change in season.

asu m op fiber
This first yarn is definitely summery. It makes me think of ripe peaches and raspberries. However, the orange tones definitely hint of coming autumn.

asu m op swirl
Fiber: All Spun Up 100% merino
3 ply
476 yards
118 grams
asu m op strands macro
I love how this yarn turned out. The colors came together quite nicely, and the yarn itself has an enormous amount of bounce. It's an all-around happy yarn.

The next yarn is spun from a more autumnal palette, although I can't help thinking of Mardi Gras when I see these colors together. (A friend looked at the yarn and called it, "Mardi Gras in the forest." Very apropos.)

cw mc fiber
Fiber: Copperpot Woolies 100% merino, "Mulled Cider"
3 ply
376 yards
115 grams

cw mc skein
I do love the colors, but I'm not completely happy with this yarn. Somehow I managed to overspin it. Thinking about it now, I'm not quite sure how I did it. After all, I've spun a boatload of merino, and I spun this using the same ratios I normally use for fine wool. Perhaps the fact that this wool is a carded prep rather than my usual combed top made the difference. It's good to have these reminders about how much I have yet to learn about spinning.

The yarn itself is perfectly usable, but it doesn't quite have the soft loftiness and bounce I'm used to from merino. It's rather sturdy. Still, it would probably make a reasonably hard-wearing pair of socks.

cw mc messy
Believe it or not, I have started picking up my knitting needles more frequently of late. I should actually have some finished knitting to show within a week. Yes, I'm rather shocked about it myself.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

We need more plies over here

Ye gods, I can't stop with the 3 ply! Everything must be 3 ply! Don't get me wrong, 2 ply has been good to me, and I have no intentions of abandoning it. But oh, 3 ply, you make me weak in the knees (which, ironically, has nothing to do with the fact that 3 ply is more work than 2 ply).

fck swm sent fiber
I started with this fiber. Does it look familiar? It did to me too, and it suddenly hit me that I spun a yarn very similar colorway from the same seller earlier this year. Apparently this color combo calls to me in some mysterious way. Who knew I was such a fan of purple? Certainly not I.

fck swm sent swirl
Fiber: FatCatKnits 100% superwash merino, "Sentinel"
3 ply
356 yards
109 grams

fck swm strands macro
It does look smashing as a 3 ply, though, and I'm thoroughly happy with it. The fiber was absolutely lovely—probably the best superwash merino I've spun thus far. The resulting yarn is a very squishy heavy fingering weight and would make a killer pair of socks.

Next up is a yarn I spun over Labor Day weekend. I started spinning on Friday evening and plied the yarn on Monday morning.

yp m pat swirl2
Fiber: YarnPig 100% merino, "Patina"
3 ply
400 yards
100 grams

yp m pat strands macro
This yarn certainly exceeded my expectations! My friend Bea (aka, YarnPig) dyed the fiber as part of an exchange we did several months ago. She let me choose from several rovings she had dyed, and I was immediately drawn to this one. Bea did warn me that she thought the fiber might be a bit felted, but I liked the colors enough to chance it. It ended up being a great choice.

yp m pat skein macro
As it turned out, the fiber was not felted; in fact, it drafted quite easily. And those subtle colors—swoon! This one was hard to photograph. Depending on the light, it can look steely blue, earthy brown, or even greenish-gray. Very nice. The texture is lovely too. It has so much elasticity that I can practically hear it go "sproing." That's the kind of bounce you just can't get with superwash merino...at least, not with any superwash merino I've tried.