Wednesday, December 13, 2017

And there were bunnies, too!

Last Saturday I attended a workshop on how to spin angora. For those of you who don't know, angora does NOT come from angora goats - that's mohair. Angora fiber comes from angora rabbits. According to the instructor, Peggy Coffey, angora is nine times warmer than wool, which is one reason few garments are made exclusively from angora.

Another reason not to use 100% angora is the fiber does not have scales like wool. It is slippery and needs a LOT of twist to hold together. Mixing angora with wool helps alleviate both the issue of the fiber being too warm and too slick.

Some breeds of angora rabbits are sheared or clipped, but the ones Peggy brought are plucked. Several times a year, they "blow" their coats, which means they start to shed heavily. That is when it is time to harvest the fur.

We sampled fur from different breeds of angora rabbits and in different blends. I'm not sure yet how I feel about spinning angora. The tight twist gets kinky very easily. Also, the yarn has a "halo" - hairs that stick out. Although very soft, this halo can also tickle.

My primary reason for attending this workshop was to learn what to do with the sheddings from Hip Hop, an angora-minilop mix rabbit I owned many years ago. Peggy suggested I sandwich the angora between layers of mohair on my blending board since my angora has a rather short staple.

The workshop was held at MoonTree Studios. This was my first visit to this venue, which is a bit off the beaten track. While I was there, about six inches of snow fell, with more coming down as I was leaving. Fortunately, I was able to make it to US30 without trouble and eastward there was less snow even though driving conditions deteriorated periodically. There was so much slush on the front of my car, some of the driver assist technology didn't work. So much for self-driving cars in an Indiana winter!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

One pair of xmas socks

In (some) previous years, I have knit xmas socks for those near and dear to me. Not this year, as I find myself distracted by multiple fiber projects - dyeing, weaving, spinning, etc. However, my son relayed a request from his SO for a pair. I complied.


Pattern: Sock Recipe by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, short-row heel courtesy of Short-Row Toe and Heel Basic Socks by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Austermann Step, colorway 23, Simply Sock Yarn in black for toes, heels, and cuffs
Needles: US1
Modifications: Besides the short-row heel (to maintain the striping), I rounded the toe by decreasing every other round until 40 stitches remained, then decreased every round until 28 stitches remained


This colorway looked better in the skein than it does knitted, IMO. It's also not very festive. The wide stripes worked out for the length, though.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Still a little tight

As a palate cleanser, I decided to spin the alpaca/merino blend I purchased from the Natural Fiber and Yarn Co. Mindful of the shorter staple, I carefully used the inch-worm method of spinning in hopes of improving the consistency of my spinning. Still not there, but getting closer.


After a previous episode of plying, where I tried to ply from a too large center-pull ball, I had the sense to divide this roving into two parts by weight and to spin each on a separate bobbin. But then I tried to ply it all onto one bobbin. It didn't quite work out.


I told myself I could use the mini skein for swatching, but it is pretty messed up. There is always something new to learn, but sometimes I get tired of these learning experiences.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Angry yarn

I specifically purchased some Cormo top with a plan to spin it worsted, to see how it compared with roving spun worsted. This was the yarn on my wheel when I went to a spin-in. Someone at the spin-in took it upon themselves to tell me what I was doing wrong. And then this person commandeered my wheel to show me the right way to do it. The problem was, she was spinning woolen instead of worsted.

I said something to that affect, but it fell on deaf ears. Which resulted on her advice falling on my deaf ears. Later, when I thought about what she said, I actually found it helpful. However, it took a while for me to not get angry all over again every time I sat down at the wheel because my inner child was whining, She ruined my experiment! Consequently, I spun the Cormo too tightly, then plied it too tightly.


One may not be able to tell from this photo the result of this tight spinning, but one can feel it when one touches the yarn. It feels textured. Nubby. Tense.

My first inclination is to swear to NEVER, EVER spin in public again. At least, not until I am a better spinner. But my better self knows a more mature reaction is to remain open to learning from others, regardless of the situation and the outcome. Besides learning what to do, sometimes one learns what NOT to do.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Shetland

I started watching Shetland, a British TV series that takes place in the Shetland Islands (duh). I'm not sure which I like better, the accents or the knitwear.

Classic ribbed turtleneck pullover.


Shawl collar, drop sleeve cardigan.


Crew neck, raglan sleeve pullover. With cables!


I'm a little confused about what may be called a "jumper" or "Gansey" or "Guernsey" in the UK. No matter, I like all these sweaters. The show is pretty good, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Absorba the Great (sort of)

I got this idea to weave a bathroom rug out of super bulky yarn from here. JoAnn had some super bulky yarn on clearance, so it seemed ordained that I would try this out. Well, after warping, I was not excited by the weaving.


I also wanted thicker material than this was turning out to be. Mason Dixon Knitting to the rescue! Unfortunately, this is one rug that looks better in real life than it does in a photo.


Pattern: Absorba, the Great Bathmat
Yarn: Big Twist Yarns Natural Blend Ombres, colorway 11001 (black and white and grays)
Needles: US17
Final size: 31" x 22"
Modifications: Different yarn, different needles, held two strands instead of three, fewer "logs", picked up more stitches

Knitting super bulky yarn doubled was really hard on my hands (and arms and shoulders), but thankfully it didn't take long. The rug is about a half inch thick and squooshy under foot. Mostly acrylic with some wool, we shall see how absorbent the yarn is.

Now I'm wondering what to do with the warped bit. Maybe unweave the weft and replace it with a contrasting color, like pink or yellow? Stick with super bulky or try something thinner? Hmmm.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Where do you keep your hand knits?

Besides the fiber arts studio conundrum, I also have an issue with managing all my hand knits. A friend suggested rugged antique-ish ladders for blankets. I found some at a new local consignment shop, Rekindle.


I don't like to hang scarves because they tend to stretch. But folded and hung, again on an old ladder, works just fine. (Hats and handwear go into some baskets.)


My wool socks get washed but once a year, just before I put them away for the season. The rest of the time they air out on a drying rack in my bedroom. This takes up a bit of room, but is doable.

But SWEATERS. My hand knit sweaters are too bulky for drawers and too heavy for hangers. During the off season, they rest in a big plastic tub in my closet. But I can't figure out how to manage them during sweater-wearing season besides draping them over a rocking chair in my bedroom.

How do you manage your hand knits?