Tour de Fleece – Day 3

I chose to start my Tour de Fleece spinning with the SW Corriedale in David’s Gift. I’ve gotten the bobbin about half full, and it’s all orange. When I stopped spinning this afternoon, I had just begun to see a little of the brown creeping in. I’m a little worried about how I’m spinning it – sometimes I think I’m going too thick and other times, too thin. I have a Spinner’s Control Card somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about the thickness variation because I’d be plying it, and most of the time it all blends together. Since this is destined to be singles, I won’t have a second ply to balance it out. I think I’m just psyching myself out a little cause I keep thinking it’s a good weight if I were to ply it as a laceweight, but I want this to be a laceweight without plying.

Part of the problem is I don’t usually spin singles yarn.  I jumped in without thinking about the thickness much at all other than knowing I want laceweight.  For this single to be laceweight all on it’s own, it needs to be a bit thicker that I normally spin the singles for a plied laceweight.  But when I spin that way, some part of my brain tells me I’m spinning too thick and I back off.

I guess I’ll just need to trust my fingers and understand that I can work with whatever the end result is.  I am spinning this for a shawl after all and that means that a little thicker will simply give me a slightly larger shawl, which can be nice.

End of the Line, Temporarily

My niece’s first birthday is next month, and I had decided to knit her a sweater made from my handspun.  Because my sister knows how to take care of nice things, I decided that I wasn’t restricted to just superwash fibers.  I selected the organic merino I got in the Spunky Eclectic club in March 2011; the colorway is Little Periwinkles, which is pastels — pink, blue, green, purple with some white.  For the pattern, I choose Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Sweater from The Knitting Almanac.  It’s pretty much seamless, with some lace to make it pretty.

I started by spinning up 4 oz, which gave me approximately 194 yards of light worsted yarn.  I used about 30 yards knitting a swatch to determine which needle size would be best for the yarn and get me the closest to the gauge listed in the pattern (5 sts/inch).  I tested out size 5, 6, and 7 needles.  It was hard waiting for the swatch to dry, but in the end it told me that I could get 5 sts/inch on size 6 needles.  However, I liked the fabric from the size 7 needles better, and the gauge was only 4.8 sts/inch; close enough, and would allow me to err on the bigger size for the sweater since Miss M is growing quickly.

Unfortunately, the 160-ish yards I had left were not enough to complete the sweater. I got through the yoke, the arm separation, and about 3 inches of the body before I ran out. So, it’s back to the spinning wheel for me to get more yarn for finishing up. I’ve gotten the 4 bobbins of singles done and am just waiting for them to rest a little before getting the plying started.

I must say, the organic merino is a dream to spin. I have more of it in different colors from Spunky Eclectic and am now looking forward to spinning and knitting it up. So soft.

Tour de Flop

The Tour de Fleece began July 3, and I happily sat down in front of my spinning wheel with the hopes of seeing it through to the end.  This was my first time doing the Tour de Fleece, and I signed up with Abby Franquemont’s Team Suck Less because I wanted to focus on improving my technique as well as Amy King’s Team Monkey Farts because I planned on working my way through some of my Spunky Eclectic Club backlog.  I spun on Saturday.  I spun on Sunday.  I spun on the Monday Holiday.  On Tuesday I had the beginnings of a bad headache, which revealed itself on Wednesday to be something wrong with my back, right between my shoulder blades.  I felt like someone was ramming something into my spine.  My shoulder hurt.  My head hurt.  Spinning was not going to happen.  Thankfully, my chiropractor got me in for her last available appointment Wednesday afternoon, but I was instructed to ice and take it easy for a few days.  That’s all it takes to fall off the wagon.  For the rest of the tour I found excuses not to spin.

On the upside, I did manage to fill 3 bobbins with singles on their way to becoming what I hope will be a sportish 3-ply.  I tried to spin so that the yarn would have a bit more loft, thus make the final yarn more fluffy.  I have such a bad habit of making smooth dense yarns that are all thinner than I want.  So, this yarn is an experiment.  I have no idea if I did the right things to get the yarn I’m hoping for, but I’m willing to accept that.  (I still have another 4 oz. of this fiber/color combination, so I still have a chance to make a gorgeous, usable yarn.)  I had discovered when I took Janel Laidman’s spinning class at Stitches West 2010, that if I draft faster, I get yarn that’s fluffier.  Now, granted, I was doing that on a spindle.  But, I gave it some thought and tried to apply what I did with the spindle to my wheel.  Like I said, I have no idea if I did it right; for all I know I did the complete opposite.

I wanted to ply faster.  But, plying faster means nothing if the yarn is sitting around waiting to move onto the bobbin.  I also figured that a fluffier yarn needs less twist to hold it together (this may be one of the places I’ve gone completely wrong and find myself with singles that just fall apart as I try to ply them).  I was basing this on thinner yarn needs more twist, thicker yarn needs less twist.  So, I turned up the uptake on my wheel and plied like the wind.

Who knows, maybe the bobbins of singles sitting around while I do nothing with them for 3 weeks will work in my favor allowing the twist to settle in a bit.  Or I might just be on my way to ending up with a huge mess.