Getting Antsy

Spinning has been on my mind a lot lately, even if it hasn’t been actually in my hands. For one, I set a goal back in January that I wanted to finish all my in-progress spinning projects by June. (Cue maniacal laughter.) This goal has helped my pick up my spindles more often, but I haven’t finished a single skein yet. (Sigh.)

For another, the Completely Twisted and Arbitrary SAL group on Ravelry is having a “Crazy Yarn A-long” challenge and I’m itching to play. I started some art yarn ages ago that I’d like to finish. Since I’ve only spun one 4 oz single so far, the other 4+ oz single will count for this challenge. I’m planning a stacked yarn so all the craziness will happen during the plying stage, which seems like it’ll be fun.

Finally, I know I haven’t been spinning enough lately when I see some pretty fiber on Etsy and go MINE, MINE, MINE without a second thought.

That lovely piece of fluff is a ‘Yarnicorn’ batt from Classy Squid Fiber Co.  on Etsy. It’s a delightful mix of superfine Merino wool, Mulberry, Tussah, and Sari silks, mohair, firestar, nylon, silk noil, and angelina. Basically, a candy-colored kitchen sink of a batt that I cannot wait to spin. I’m metaphorically dangling it in front of my face so I hurry-up-and-finish the spin that’s been occupying my wheel since October.

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I Shall Spin Midnight, click for project page.

This spin is essentially the polar opposite of the new batt. It’s 8 oz of Merino/silk blend dyed a uniform black by Louet. I began it when my husband’s Nana passed away, as a way to think about her through craft. Then I got pregnant and we packed and moved and unpacked and it sat, and sat, and sat. It’s going to make a lovely, fingering-weight 2-ply yarn when it’s done but I’m just barely halfway through. I am making a bold April goal right now: I will finish this spin AND the new Yarnicorn batt by the end of the month. And then I’ll finish my art yarn by the end of the challenge (May 15). WATCH ME, WORLD.

In other news, I spent much of the weekend sorting through cloth diapers and baby clothes that friends and coworkers have generously given us. Tiny baby things are so tiny, and the cats were highly amused. Darwin loves laundry in general, but he seemed to especially love lounging on the wool diaper covers. Calypso looked just a tad bit concerned, like she can tell something is up but has no clue WTF it might be… June/July should be interesting for all of us!

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FOFri #37: All the Fluffy

The first project I spun on my Lendrum wheel was a full pound of undyed Falkland, spun up into a respectably squishy 3-ply with oodles of yardage. This second finished yarn? Totally different.

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

Thick-and-Thin Masham. Click for handspun page.

The fiber for this skein was the April 2014 shipment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Whorl Club: 8 oz of Masham wool in the Indigo Dreams colorway. I first started spinning this on a spindle but wasn’t loving it, so I decided to give the bulky flyer of my wheel a try. I was spinning up thick singles for a while, but then I was inspired to give thick-and-thin art yarn spinning a shot.

I’m really glad I did, and I’m thrilled that I have a wheel that allows me to spin such vastly different yarns with ease. I spun until I got tired of the process and called it done. The skein is about 3.3 oz and 214 yards of bulky-to-sport weight yarn. I was pleasantly surprised by how evenly distributed the bulky bits seemed while I was winding this skein up. I finished it by plunging the singles into hot and cold water 3 times, and thwacking thoroughly. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well balanced the skein was after finishing. Singles yarns can easily contain too much twist without the plying stage to balance things out but this skein is just fine. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it yet, but the finished yarn is much fluffier than I expected it to be, and I think a little loosely-knit cowl or kerchief will do quite nicely. And bonus, I still have lots of fiber and some bulky singles left to use in future art yarn explorations.

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

I might just be done with my Garnet Tonic cowl, as well. The pattern said to knit to 48″ before adding the contrast color stripe and binding off/seaming. My cowl measured 44″ unblocked after I had just broken into the third skein and finished the 7th repeat. Since I have a tendency to overestimate cowl length, and since it is already feeling pretty heavy (2 skeins of dense yarn gobbled up), I decided to put my stitches on a lifeline and block it out now to see how big it really is before finishing. On the blocking boards it measures 14″ across and 48″ in length. Once dry I’ll try it on and see if I want to add an 8th repeat or not. Have you ever blocked a project before it’s finished to figure out proper size/length?

WIPWed #83: All About the Art

For a while, I was like “Art yarn? But… why? What can you do with it?” And while I have yet to answer the second part of that question, I think I’ve finally understood the why.

I’ve been reading Jacey Boggs’ excellent book, Spin Art, and I’ve finally understood that people spin art yarn because it’s fun, beautiful, and offers endless opportunities for experimentation and discovery. Jacey is an incredible spinner and provides clear instructions and gorgeously inspirational photos, to boot. There’s also a DVD that I have yet to watch, but I’m already brimming with ideas for the techniques I’d like to try. My only wish is that she would have included photos of swatches knit with her lovely yarns, but perhaps she’s leaving that as incentive for us curious spinners to try things out for ourselves.

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club Masham wool, colorway Indigo Dreams. Click for handspun page.

I am currently giving what seemed to be the most straightforward technique, thick-and-thin spinning, a try. I am spinning on the second whorl of my bulky flyer. This wool is easy to draft and it’s going pretty well but this certainly won’t be my prettiest yarn ever. I’m planning to keep this yarn as a singles, although there are additional art yarns one could create by plying or corespinning with it. Since I’m just dipping my toe in, though, I’m keeping it simple for now, and just enjoying the process.

Did you hear that? Little miss goal-oriented product-coveter is just enjoying the process. I swear, spinning has changed me. I don’t even care if I ever knit with this stuff, I just had to make it.

The Fiasco came across an interesting video about art yesterday. (Note: the guy in it is not an actual professor, he ‘teaches’ for a website that calls itself a university, but is not, and he only has a BA, not a MFA or PhD. So its legitimacy is suspect, but I’m sharing it anyway.) It features an artist who is criticizing modern art for it lack of skill, expertise, meaning, and style. It’s an interesting perspective and raises a series of questions: Does art have to be “good” to be art? Does it have to be “beautiful”? Who determines the standards? I am not versed in art history at all but I’ve often wandered the halls of modern art museums wondering why a blank canvas with one red stripe across it can be called “art” and feeling unsure as to what the point really is in pieces like that. What do you think?

As for other works-in-progress, here’s what I’ve been doing this week.

Garnet Tonic:

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

VG Zaftig, colorway Kiss of Cabernet. Click for project page.

My Tonic Water cowl is coming along nicely. I’m 6 repeats in and have just about 1/8 of the 2nd skein left to work. It’s getting close to cowl-sized, but I’m thinking I’ll need to break into the 3rd skein soon.

Alchemy:

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight, colorway Tea & Alchemy. Click for project page.

Even though I gave in to my impulses and cast on a shawl for Malabrigo March, I have not completely forsaken my other knits. My dear Fiasco has been waiting patiently for this second sock and I’ve now safely turned the heel and am cruising down the foot. Soon, soon.

MalMarch Sundry:

WIPWed #83: All About the Art | Woolen Diversions

Malabrigo Yarns Dos, colorway Turquesa. Click for project page.

And about that Sundry shawl that I impulsively cast on for Malabrigo March? I regret nothing. Dos is such a delight to work with and I needed a little bit more garter stitch in my life. The swoop-y shape the shawl is forming is pretty fun, too.

Linking up with Small Things and Gracey’s Goodies this week. Yay for WIPs!