Sunday, July 11, 2010

Feeling Clever

Since buying a spindle at the Estes Wool Market last month, I’ve spent much more time spindle spinning than knitting. In fact, this may be the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without knitting. Instead, I’ve been spinning fleece that my cyber friend Anne from Reading, Pennsylvania, sent me, as well as fleece I bought at the Wool Market. Not knowing how to ply on a spindle, I just keep spinning more and more singles.

Now I confess to a bit of OCD on my part—I decided to take Maggie Casey’s Beginning Spinning class again this month. I figured that much of what she said the first time went over my head, some because I didn’t realize it was important at the time and some because I was concentrating so intently on what I was doing that I, well, didn’t pay attention. An important part of the class is that students take home a different wheel each week. This is an ingenious way to get students to choose a favorite to buy. Part of my incentive for retaking the class was that I’d have a wheel to ply all of those singles. So instead of spinning new fleece, I spent most of Friday plying all the singles I had accumulated.

Finally, it was time to knit! I ended up with 165 two-ply yards from 2 ounces of red/blue/purple dyed fleece I bought at the Wool Market. I knitted a swatch to determine that I liked it at 6 stitches/inch on size 4 needles. Based on The Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements, I knew I had enough yarn to knit a pair of fingerless mitts. I then followed the mitten instructions in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns. I worked the cuff, back of hand, and top edging in a k3, p1 rib in which I slipped the center stitch of the k3 column every other round to make a raised rib pattern that wouldn’t interfere with the beauty of the yarn. I worked the back-of-hand pattern on a little more than half of the stitches so that it would completely cover the back of the hand when worn.

What a joy it was to knit with my own yarn! I had been advised that handspun yarn had more life than store-bought. No kidding! The yarn had the most amazing “boing” as it formed stitches—I think each stitch had a life of its own (maybe I put a little too much twist in the yarn?).

Next up: a shawl from the 257 yards of yarn I spun from 8 ounces of fleece that Anne from Reading PA gave me! (Perhaps I'm entering my red phase.)


JelliDonut said...

Really nice! One of these days I'll try spinning.

The Grumpy Woodchuck said...

I actually enjoy spindle plying even more than spindle spinning. It's like magic.

I wind off the singles onto fat little felt balls, then I put two or three balls each into their own bowl with tall sides, and ply from those. You just ply by turning the spindle in the opposite direction from your spinning direction.

Lori Gayle said...

Check out the speed plying section in Abby Franquemont's spindle DVD. It's amazingly fast (at least when she does it). I'm a total convert!

Taylor said...

I like reading your descriptions of your spinning adventures. I feel a kindred spirit as I just finished a swatch I like for the first real project I'll knit with my own handspun and totally agree - it is very fun and "boingy." Spin on!

Taos Sunflower said...

Congratulations, Ann! It really is hard to find commercial yarns as much fun to knit once you've knitted with hand spun yarns. Thanks for sharing your spinning journey.

Deborah Robson said...

So glad you are finally discovering the delights of handspun. It's like having freshly baked bread right out of the oven.

AnniesArtifacting said...

That is the most beautiful hand spun that I've ever seen from a hmmm, you really never did any spinning before?...novice???
You just seem to be one of those people who are good at anything that they do!
I'm glad that you are enjoying the fiber.
If you need more, please don't hesitate to contact me.
One thing I have a lot of is fiber.

And two of your books (so far) went to India via, Australia, Germany, Texas, Minesota, & far. We've all been sharing books & pattern leaflets like this for years now. And, as it is with your books, now everyone and anyone who has had their 3 weeks with the book now wants their own copy. So, I hope that it's also helping your sales.

Blessings to you. You are a fantastic person and a fiber artist!

Anne from Pa