Spinning Silk Supported

I hope those of you celebrating Memorial Day are doing so in whatever way makes you happiest! I’m currently stuck at home with the beginnings of a sore throat and a very sick Fiasco. Poor guy does not handle illness very gracefully and we changed our original plans (visiting parents on Long Island) and then our secondary plans (a cookout with friends) to much less exciting, self-imposed quarantine. I consoled myself with silk.

Hand-carded silk rolags.

First, I turned some silk top from into shiny, weightless rolags. A reader asked a question about what is needed to make rolags. You need a pair of hand cards, which run about $60+. I have a flat-backed pair from Paradise Fibers, but I am not a huge fan of them. They’re a little heavy and other hand cards have curved backs which I think make the motions easier, but I still used them to make these rolags. The Woolery sells a hand carding kit, which comes with a pair of basic wool cards, a book, and 2 lbs of fleece. They also sell a How to Card Wool DVD which is really interesting because it shows 4 very different techniques for hand carding, since there isn’t much agreement on One Right Way to hand card. This YouTube video is a little bit long (skip ahead a bit to the actual carding), but shows the process simply:

I did basically that, just a little more gently and messily with silk (it’s a very fly-away fiber) and then used my new toy to make this pretty little skein:


Wee silk skeinlet.

After spinning on my Russian spindle, I wound the yarn into a center-pull ball and then plied from the center and outer ends of yarn. Next time, I would take both ends and then wind up a plying ball from the center-pull ball before actually plying. A plying ball is basically just two singles wound into a ball as if they were one strand of yarn under tension. Then, when you go to ply, the two singles are nicely aligned and come off the ball evenly. Because I bypassed this step, I ended up with more snarls and tangles than were entirely necessary. I plied on my wheel.


Pretty, though, right?

I’m really happy with this little skein. It weighs just 0.6 oz (19 g) and contains about 70 yards of 2-ply, fingering-to-sport weight yarn. If this had been a full 4 oz of silk instead of leftovers from my alpaca carding experiment, I would’ve ended up with about 465 yards of yarn. Now (perhaps predictably) I wish I had more silk!

Here are some links to YouTube videos you can watch if you’d like to see Russian support spindling in action:

  • Video 1 (1:28 min) by soozagee – No narration, clear view of drafting technique and shows winding a temporary cop. I’m still in the ‘park and draft’ stage where my spindle is not actively spinning while I pinch and draft out fiber.
  • Video 2 (9:28 min) by Beth Smith – Narration, but not a very close up view of what’s happening with the spindle. Good descriptions of different fiber preps to use with support spindling and how to start the spindle..
  • Video 3 (6:55 min) by Fleegle – No narration, demonstrates how to begin spinning on the spindle, has some slow motion sequences. Good view of the tip of the spindle. Shows a temporary cop and how to wind it off by butterflying.
  • Video 4 (10:12 min) by Lisa Chan – Narration! Yay! This video helped me the most when I was first trying to make sense of what the heck was going on. She clearly describes starting the leader, spinning from the fold, managing twist, and progressing through park and draft. If you’re just starting out, I’d start here.

I hope those resources are helpful! I’d add two tips to the information in the videos: 1) preparation is really important for smooth drafting when twist is added so quickly. I recommend spinning from the fold (with most spindles, really) or carding some rolags, and 2) the angle at which you hold the yarn in relation to the tip of the spindle will affect what is happening. If you are holding the yarn at a 90 degree angle (perpendicular) to the spindle shaft, when you spin the spindle you will be winding the yarn onto the shaft (or off, depending on direction). If you are holding the yarn at a 30 or 45 degree angle to the shaft, you will be adding twist to your yarn when you flick your spindle (which is what you want). If you are holding the yarn nearly directly above the spindle tip (parallel, or a 0 – 5 degree angle) you will most likely just be pulling your wound yarn off the top of your spindle (which is not productive, so stop it). Angle matters, and it will take a little practice to find your sweet spot.

That’s enough babbling from me today, I think. What are your favorite spinning technique resources?


Twist Experiment Results!

After a weekend of ungodly tooth pain (not cool), a total and complete showering of love and generosity from my friends and family (awesome), an indescribable circus show (odd-but-cool), and a couple of really silly hats (a bridal-shower-ribbon-tophat-extravaganza and a bachelorette tiara), this Monday has been rather a rude and exhausting return to reality. But no matter! We’re going to perk ourselves up with some KNIENCE! (Ahem. Knitting science…of course. You like it.)


Twist experiment yarns.

If you remember, our experiment consisted of spinning 4 yarns:

  1. Normal 2-ply yarn, with singles spun clockwise (Z) and plied counterclockwise (S),
  2. Normal 2-ply yarn, with singles spun counterclockwise (S) and plied clockwise (Z),
  3. Opposing ply yarn, with one S single and one Z single plied counterclockwise (S), and
  4. Opposing ply yarn, with one S single and one Z single plied counterclockwise (Z).

For  quick summary of S & Z twist, check this blog post out. Basically, the letters represent the direction of the angle of the twist in the yarn (the middle bits of each letter match the way the yarn spirals) and S twist yarns are the commercial standard. Our objective was to determine if and how the direction in which a yarn is plied affects the way it knits up. For reference, I knit ‘English’ style, where I ‘throw’ the yarn around the needle in a counterclockwise motion (when viewing the needle from the tip).


Experimental swatches!

I knit each yarn on the same size needles (US 6) in the same pattern: 7 ridges garter stitch, 10 rows stockinette, and little bit of lace ribbing just for fun. There were some rather obvious differences during the knitting itself and a few more that became clear after blocking. I’ll go through each yarn and swatch one by one.

1) Normal 2-ply, with S twist (plied counterclockwise):

IMG_6449This yarn was the least remarkable to knit, which probably makes sense since it’s similar to how most commercial yarns are spun. Nothing in particular stood out about it, honestly. (But as we say in science: zeroes are data, too!) The yarn was around a worsted weight, measuring in at 10 wraps per inch on my wpi tool, somewhere between 10 and 12 wpi on my spinner’s control card, and 700 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 4.6″ wide by 5.5″ tall with a gauge of 4.5 sts/in and 10.0 rows/in in garter and 4.5 sts/inch and 7.0 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric feels both cohesive and fluid at this gauge and the ribbing seems relatively elastic, the yarnovers fairly distinct.

2) Normal 2-ply, with Z twist (plied clockwise):

IMG_6451This swatch doesn’t look much different from the first. However, while knitting, I noticed that the yarn did indeed slightly unply due to the way I wrapped it around the needle (counterclockwise).


See how for some of the stitches the plies look nearly parallel, rather than twisted?

However, unlike the impression I get from the way twist is talked about, I found this slight unplying to be more pleasant to knit. The first swatch felt kind of ‘meh’ while I was knitting, while this one was decidedly pleasurable. The yarn felt more relaxed to work, which I suppose it was with the untwisting. Like the first 2-ply, this yarn was a worsted weight, measuring in at 11 wraps per inch on my wpi tool, somewhere between 10 and 12 wpi on my spinner’s control card, and 750 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 4.4″ wide by 5.2″ tall with a gauge of 4.3 sts/in and 10.0 rows/in in garter and 4.5 sts/inch and 7.0 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric felt similar to the first swatch, but the yarn was a bit finer and more consistent so the stitches were more even.

3) Opposing ply, with S twist (plied counterclockwise):

IMG_6453I noticed two major differences between the opposing ply and normal 2-ply yarns straightaway: the opposing ply yarns were far more elastic and fluffier/thicker than the normal 2-ply yarns. This, I’m sure, is due to the excess energy that was all wound up in the single originally spun in the ply direction, while the other single was somewhat unspun during plying, allowing those fibers to relax and poof up as their energy was released. The most interesting difference became apparent after blocking: the stockinette portion of the swatch was biased to the left! It would be more obvious if the section were larger but if you look closely you can see how the stitches all lean leftward. This is another artifact of excess energy in the yarn. The S-twisted opposing ply yarn could be classified as a chunky weight, measuring in at 8 wraps per inch on both my wpi tool and spinner’s control card, and around 400 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 5.0″ wide by 6.3″ tall with a gauge of 4.0 sts/in and 9.0 rows/in in garter and 4.0 sts/inch and 6.0 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric is much thicker and sturdier than the previous swatches, as the yarn was thicker and knit on the same size needles.

4) Opposing ply, with Z twist (plied clockwise):

IMG_6455This yarn had many of the same characteristics as yarn #3 except for one distinct difference: after blocking, the stockinette portion of the Z-twisted yarn biased to the right! This was really exciting because I’d only ever read about energized yarns and how they affect fabric, and never intentionally spun one before to see it happen firsthand.  Like the previous yarn, this one could be classified as a chunky weight, measuring in at 9 wraps per inch on my wpi tool, between 8 and 10 wpi on my spinner’s control card, and around 450 yards per pound on my yarn balance. The swatch measured 5.0″ wide by 5.8″ tall with a gauge of 4.0 sts/in and 10.0 rows/in in garter and 4.3 sts/inch and 6.3 rows/in in stockinette. The fabric was much thicker and sturdier than the normal 2-ply swatches, but also seemed much neater and more cohesive than the S-twisted opposing ply swatch.


  1. Opposing ply yarns are super duper bouncy, elastic, fluffy, and fun. I like them.
  2. Opposing ply yarns will bias either left or right in plain stockinette stitch.
  3. Opposing ply yarns made with the same singles as normal 2-ply yarns will be much thicker than normal 2-ply yarns when finished.
  4. I noticed a slight unplying of Z-plied (clockwise) yarns as I knit them.
  5. I prefer the look of my Z-plied swatches for both normal and opposing ply yarns. My stitches seem neater and the fabric looks smoother and more cohesive.

Interesting note: of the 10 people who commented on how they like to spin their yarns, 7 people plied Z, 2 people plied S, and 1 person plied S for all fibers except linen, for which she switched directions because it is standard practice for linen to be plied Z (which I do remember reading somewhere else but cannot find a reference for it at this time). For the curious, I used the Spinning Daily yarn standards (pdf) to compare wpi to gauge, etc. I also just came across this blog post detailing a different kind of twist-related experiment that I didn’t even touch on here.

Overall, an interesting exercise, no? I’m glad that most of my wheel-spun handspun yarns are plied in the Z direction, now that I think my fabric looks nicer with Z-plied yarns. Although the commercial standard is S-plied and my spindle-spun yarns tend to be S-plied, too. I’ll have to pay  more attention from now on to see if I can spot any real differences while knitting S- or Z-plied yarns in larger projects.

Have you paid attention to how the twist of your yarns affects your knitting?

WIPWed #55: Experimental Swatches

My main knitting work-in-progress goal this week was swatching up four little skeins of experimental handspun. (Don’t forget to enter by Thursday night to win 8 oz of Louet Perendale fiber of your very own! Check this blog post for details.)

Twist Experiment Swatches:


knitting + science = awesome

They haven’t yet been blocked, but they will be A.S.A.P. so I can report back on my results by Friday. Each swatch was knit on the same size needles with the same patterns (7 ridges garter stitch, 10 rows stockinette, and a little lace-y rib pattern). I immediately noticed that the two opposing ply yarns (bottom row) were much plumper and knit up into larger swatches than the normal 2-ply yarns (top row). I’ll discuss more about why I think this is after I see how they block out.

Scummy Cedar Grove:


Blue Moon Fiber Arts De-Vine, colorway Pond Scum. Click for project page.

I picked up this shawl again this morning and literally just knit half a row so I could call it a WIP in good conscious and share it here. Perhaps that’s cheating, but I felt like so little knitting has been happening lately. Possibly because I almost forgot…

Boxed Wind:


Sanguine Gryphon Zaftig Bugga, colorway Box Jellyfish. Click for project page.

I knit a super quick Windschief hat for a good friend’s birthday last weekend. So quick, it didn’t even see the blog until it was gifted and gone. It lasted just long enough to make me super sad that the Zaftig yarn is discontinued, though. It’s scrumptious.

Speaking of good friends, that same friend went to Iceland with his knitterly husband recently. I pleaded that they bring me back some handknit mittens and boy, did they deliver:


Pretty, pretty mittens.

Could I knit myself lovely, fingering-weight, colorwork snowflake mittens? Sure, probably. Am I likely to do so anytime soon? NOPE. I have a terrible track record with finishing mittens and have no pressing desire to knit that much colorworkso I’m super happy to have this pair. They feel great and will be just the thing when it gets cold around here again. Plus, they came from Iceland, so they are extra awesome.

In a final bit of news, I added a new lotion bar fragrance to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe:


Are you drooling yet?

Lemon Cake! It smells exactly as you’d think it would: citrus-y, sweet, butter-y, cake-y, yummy. I also re-stocked a couple scents I had sold out of: Crisp Pear and Sandalwood Vanilla. I’m so happy that my bars have been receiving great feedback! A couple of  customers have been kind enough to write wonderful, 5-star reviews and a few others have sent me direct messages telling me how happy they are with their purchases. It’s thrilling! I’ve also created a Facebook page for the shop if you’d like to ‘like’ it and stay up-to-date with news and sales there.

Phew! Turns out I had more to chat about than I thought… Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis and enjoy your Wednesday! (And don’t forget the Louet giveaway!)

Happily Handspun

I’m pretty sure I think/say this every time I finish a skein of yarn, but this one might just be my prettiest handspun yet.


This gorgeous thing is the finished product of my brief drum carding experiment. I blended about 5 oz of undyed baby alpaca fiber with about 2 oz of blue/green silk and a sprinkling of firestar. I carded each little batt twice and the spinning was delightfully fluffy and easy.

IMG_6397I absolutely adore the way the little pops of color from the silk shine through the soft, white base of the alpaca. The carding blended the fibers enough so that the yarn has a bit of a heathered look from afar, but up close you see all of the variation. Guys, it’s seriously pretty. I almost can’t stand it.

IMG_6426I even broke out my yarn balance to try to take some more accurate measurements of this skein and my last skein of handspun (pictured above). To use a yarn balance, you cut a length of yarn about 2 feet long (possibly longer if it’s a thin yarn) and let it hang from the arm of the balance. Then you remove the yarn, snip little bits off the end, and replace it until the arm no longer slams down as soon as weight is added. On my balance, the arm didn’t exactly move into a balanced position at any point, I kind of had to help it along. I figured that if it didn’t slam down immediately and if I was able to lift it back up again while the weight of the yarn was on it, then that was balanced enough.

IMG_6427Once you have your balanced length, you measure it. In the photo above, the top strand measured 12.0 inches and the bottom measured 9.0. You then multiply the length of yarn (including any decimal places) by 100 to calculate that the grist of the top yarn is 1200 yards per pound and the bottom (alpaca/silk) is 900 yards per pound. This means that if I had spun up a full pound of fiber, I would have had 900 yards of yarn at this yarn’s thickness. What’s interesting is that I measured 344 yards for this yarn on my niddy noddy before washing. The ball of yarn weighs 175 grams, or 0.386 pounds. When you multiply 0.386 pounds by 900 yards/pound, you get about 347 yards, which is very close to what I had measured on my niddy noddy, so that’s a nice check!


There’s a helpful chart in this blog post that compares yarn weight to wraps per inch and yarn grist. The grist for the alpaca/silk, and the fact that I measured about 12 wraps per inch, puts it in the DK/light worsted weight range according to that chart and one I have from a Spin-Off magazine. There was a handy article in KnittySpin recently that was all about measuring your yarn, if you’d like to read about this topic further.

This skein makes the 3rd finished of 12 planned spinning projects in 2014 for my Spin the Bin challenge. Not too shabby for April! I am pretty sure it needs to become a Morning Surf Scarf. What do you think?

Review & Giveaway: Eucalan Wrapture

I tend to be somewhat brand-loyal in my purchases (you might have picked that up from my yarn stashing habits). If I liked something that I first tried, I’ll often stick with it and not bother trying similar products by another company unless not totally satisfied… something of an ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ mentality, I guess. However, this can be limiting and prevent me from discovering new things that I might like even more than the first one I tried – enter Eucalan no-rinse wool wash.

IMG_6222I have used another wool wash for a few years now and thought it worked well enough, but it always left my hands extremely dry. My skin is very sensitive to soaps and I usually need to moisturize immediately after washing my hands because I hate that dried-out soapy feeling. This gets annoying when handwashing my woolens because my hands are in contact with the soap multiple times throughout the process — soaking, squeezing, laying out to dry. I’m really, really glad I tried Eucalan because my hands didn’t get that dried-out feeling at any point, which I suspect is due to the lanolin content (a great moisturizer and fiber conditioner – you all know how I feel about lanolin!).

IMG_6220I tested my bottle of Eucalan Wrapture by using it to finish my recent skeins of BFL handspun yarn. You only need to use 1 tsp of wool wash for every gallon of water and you can do your washing by hand or in top-loading and front-loading machines. Since this was a small bowl I used just a tiny bit. Each 3.3 oz bottle should last for at least 20 washes. The Wrapture scent is made with jasmine essential oils and has a lovely, lightl floral fragrance. I’m not usually the biggest fan of florals and I’m sensitive to strong or cloying smells so I appreciated how light and fresh this scent was. They make 4 other scents, too: Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender, and Unscented. Each contains essential oils which have a variety of benefits, including antiseptic properties and repelling moths and fleas. I let my skeins soak for about 20 minutes, then just squeezed out the water, rolled them in a towel, and hung them up to dry.

IMG_6227I ended up with 550 yards of 2-ply, sportweight BFL that are fluffy, bouncy, and lightly-jasmine scented. I’m in love! In addition to the scent and the lanolin content, I like that Eucalan is so eco-friendly. It contains a grand total of 8 ingredients (compared to a competitor’s 13) and is non-toxic, biodegradable, dye-free, PH neutral, phosphate-free, and packaged in recyclable materials made entirely in Canada.

And now for the giveaway!

In short: I really liked Eucalan and will switch to it for its more natural, eco-friendly, and non-drying properties. If you would like a chance to try Eucalan yourself, leave a comment below telling me which scent you might like and why. A winner will be chosen from the comments on Friday, April 11th and Stitchcraft Marketing will hook up up with your prize. We are only able to ship to a winner in the US or Canada for this giveaway. If you share or re-share this post through any social media outlet (facebook, twitter, a link on your own blog, etc.) let me know in the comment, it will earn you 2 additional entries!

(Note: I was provided with this product for review, all opinions and statements are honest and my own.)

Workin’ On The Weekend

I spent this weekend as a busy, busy little bee and it felt amazing. I haven’t had 2 days to myself in so long and I got quite a few things accomplished that have been on my list for a while.


Sweet Sheep Solid Lotion Bars, in progress!

I finally finally finally had some serious time to devote to the lotion bars that so many of you volunteered to test several weeks ago. I tweaked the formula a bit more and came up with something that I now really, really love — your input was invaluable, THANK YOU! I (mostly) set up my (forthcoming) Etsy shop, made lots of business-related decisions, ordered a few more things I need before I can open things up, and made a few dozen full- and sample-sized bars to start off with. Things are getting exciting! I also set up a little info page on the blog as well as a Facebook page for the shop, if you’re interested in following and finding out exactly when I open my virtual doors! (I’m getting super psyched, can you tell?! Overuse of reclamation points!!! YES!!!!!)

Now my big question: what’s your favorite type of fragrance? What would you like to smell on your hands/body if you used the lotions? There are literally hundreds of fragrances available from my supplier of pretty much anything you can imagine. I have an undeniable bias towards sweet, fruity, vanilla-y scents and I have a sneaking a suspicion that perhaps not everyone will want to go around smelling like cake. Any suggestions of scents you like would be much appreciated!


This is basically just for proof of making the deadline.

I finished the handspun I was making for the CTA Pigeonroof Fibers spin-along, just in the nick of time because the deadline was today! I finished plying at 1 a.m. and was too tired to wind the second bobbin off into a skein (that’s tonight’s job). I’ll post more info and better glamor photos when both skeins are fully washed and dried because let me tell you, the first skein is so fluffy and delightful after drying, it deserves a better photoshoot. Scroll through all the other beautiful skeins produced in the group here.


Squoosh Fiber Arts Rapture, colorway Raven. Click for project page.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand finally, I also finished my Loch hat, designed by tin can knits. I am not sure if this hat is entirely flattering on me, it’s essentially a slightly slouchy beanie… like it’s not sure if it wants to be all-the-way-slouchy or not. It’s just sort of an odd shape on my head, though I believe it’s so slouchy because the Merino/cashmere/silk blend yarn relaxed a lot with blocking (so not due to the pattern). Or perhaps I just have a small head. Either way, I do like the FO because I needed a black hat and the sport-weight fabric is really great for spring. It’s making me want to knit more lightweight hats, now!

Phew, that was a lot! See, didn’t I tell you I’ve been busy? Hope you all had great weekends, too!

FOFri #29: Out with the Old

First news first: I’m having a big ol’ destash on Ravelry at the moment.


Click for Ravelry destash.

The realities of the wedding budget are settling in and I’m sacrificing yarn-y goodness for the success of my future marriage (hahaha so dramatic). But for real, I’m selling a lot of yarn. I have 50 listings on my trade page including Knit Picks, Malabrigo, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Cephalopod Yarns, Verdant Gryphon, Sanguine Gryphon, Madelinetosh, and many other lovely skeins. I am open to inquiries about items on my regular stash page, as well. (Though I reserve the right to decline if the yarn is in use or has plans.) Prices are listed on each stash page and include multi-skein discounts and US shipping. If you purchase multiple listings, I’ll take an additional 5% off the total. Also willing to ship internationally at cost.

Phew! Enough of that. Check out my finished object for this week:


Itty bitty teeny tiny yarn.

It’s the ittiest bittiest, teeniest tiniest skein of the thinnest yarn I’ve ever spun. If it were a full 4 oz braid and not just a sample, I would’ve ended up with 560 yards of 2-ply — that’s a light fingering weight! How did I spin such a thin yarn, you ask?


TexasJeans purpleheart Tibetan spindle.

With a gorgeous new addition to my spindle collection! The Spindle Candy board is a dangerous place to hang out, let me tell you. People raved and raved about these TexasJeans supported spindles and when I saw one pop up for sale in purpleheart, I couldn’t resist. If spinning in general is like magic, then supported spinning is like the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s magic on steroids. It doesn’t seem like it should be possible to just spin this pointy stick in a bowl and create yarn, but it totally is, and it’s awesome.


Spinning bunnyfluff.

I’m now using it to spin angora bunny fiber, which is exactly the type of short, delicate fiber that would be difficult to spin on a drop spindle but perfect for a supported spindle. I’m collecting a bunch of links to helpful videos and tutorials that I’ll post about sometime in the future but believe me — supported spindling is fun!

That’s all from me this week. 🙂 Hope you have a great Friday! Check out more FOs at Tamis Amis.

WIPWed #49: Ground to a Halt

I have become afflicted with one of a knitter’s worst fears: wrist pain (second in awfulness only to wool moths, probably). I woke up yesterday with little twinges in my wrist that grew to full-on, need-a-brace-because-I-can’t-even-type-at-work pain. It feels better so far today but I’m not going to chance any knitting or spinning for another day or so at least. (Siiiiiigh.) I think this was the cause:


Flick carding Southdown fleece, before and after.

I spent about an hour flick carding my Southdown fleece to see if I could get more of the VM out before attempting to drum card it again. I didn’t notice any pain at the time but those locks are quite short (~2″) and a bit sticky (gummed-on lanolin, likely) so they weren’t the easiest things to flick open, and it was my first time trying so I’m sure my ergonomics were off. Anyway, the flicking process was super effective at getting the VM out, so I do hope I can attempt it again one day without hurting myself. I didn’t get around to drum carding the flicked locks yet but I did spin a little sample directly from the locks and it was much nicer than my drum carded sample with all the VM stuck in it.


Wee sample, fairly consistent and virtually VM-free!

As far as WIPs go, before my knitting ground to a halt I finished some socks and worked on a few things.

Stitch Block Blues:


Quince & Co. Osprey, colorway Glacier. Click for project page.

I made a good start on my Purl Soho Stitch Block Cowl. I’m really loving the Osprey yarn. It’s substantial, bouncy, and lofty with really great stitch definition. I could see myself making a big cozy sweater out of it someday.

November Melody:


The Verdant Gryphon Mithril, colorway November Moonlight. Click for project page.

I recently resurrected this pre-holiday WIP. It’s going to be terribly boring to photograph until it’s done because it is essentially just a wide stockinette tube all crumpled in on itself, but it’s much nicer in person. When it’s done, the tube will be cut down one side and partially unravelled to make the fringe for a lightweight, flowy scarf. The fabric feels good and there’s even some subtle variegation in the yarn that is creating a neat effect. I’m thinking of adding some beads to add some sparkly vertical lines in the finished scarf, just for a little extra pizazz.

In other news, I’m halfway through the rebranding and reformatting of my pattern line! I’ve realized that if I don’t start prioritizing my design work more, it’ll never get done. Between my day job, publishing a paper, planning a wedding, and keeping up with things around the house, it often gets pushed to the side (when in reality, it’s what I really want to be doing). Now Tuesday and Thursday evenings are going to be dedicated to design work. No housework, no couch-potato time, no wedding planning, just knitting-related work. I’m excited about this plan and it’s proven productive so far. Last night, I finished reformatting both my Huacaya and Beribboned Hat patterns. Both have been streamlined and updated to my new layout. They’ve had metric measurements added and some language cleaned up. I also added crown decrease charts to the Beribboned Hat pattern. If you’ve purchased either of these patterns on Ravelry you should have received an update.


Huacaya and Beribboned Hat

That’s all that’s new with me! Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.

FOFri #28: Kind Of A Big Deal

I’m incredibly proud to share what is — for a scientist — the ultimate Finished Object.

Picture1If you’d like to read the abstract, you can do so here, and if you really want to read the paper in its entirety, let me know and I can send you a copy. This paper began back in 2009 when I first enrolled as a master’s student in the Natural Resources department at UCONN. Since that beginning, I’ve completed 3 years of grad school, worked at 2 different jobs, lived in 4 different apartments in 2 different states, been estranged from and then reunited with family members, nearly lost a loved one through a few different sicknesses, became an aunt, and met and got engaged to the Fiasco. That’s a lot of life to experience during the course of one project.

Fresh-faved Limulus love, circa 2009.

Fresh-faced Limulus love, circa 2009.

Science is a long and strangely anti-climactic process: the first few seasons are the busiest with planning and fieldwork and classes, then the final however-much-time is spent writing everything up and defending, then after that point your life moves on and you’re not always paid for the work you do to try to get the research you’ve done out into the world. After the thesis there are seemingly endless revisions to get the paper in shape for journal submission, then there’s review, sometime more analysis, and then more revision. Finally, the culmination of years of work quietly makes its appearance in print. Let me make this clear: studies that are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are no joke. They’ve been through the wringer: every word, result, and method has been scrutinized and approved by outside experts in the field. While I’m not saying that every word or result published in a journal is law, I am confident in saying that these papers represent the best knowledge we have of the observable world at the time of their writing — and that’s saying something. [End scientific soapbox rant.] All that is to say is that I’m quite proud of this particular FO.
IMG_5958I also finished spinning some yarn! This is 6 oz of Long Island Livestock Company alpaca/firestar fiber spun up into 308 yards of 2-ply yarn, approximately DK weight. (I confess I haven’t measured the wraps per inch, I’m just eyeballing it here.)
IMG_5960As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this spin. The alpaca was a breeze to work with and felt like it spun up in no time (~ 2 weeks). The skein is dense and slinky, I think it will work up into a great openwork crochet project (which is what my mom will likely use it for). The firestar is difficult to see in the photos but it gives a subtle, coppery sheen to the skein. Very nice! Spin the Bin challenge #1 is officially complete.
That’s all I have finished this week. Check out Tamis Amis for more!

Rainbow Magic

Every time I knit with my own handspun yarn I feel like a fiber genius/mad scientist. After all that scheming, preparing, imagining, spinning, spinning, spinning, plying (sometimes), finishing, skeining, washing, and winding… you finally get to cast on. And then– Eureka! It lives!

IMG_5621I’ve been spinning for almost 2 years now and I’m still consistently surprised when my handspun doesn’t 1) instantly fall apart and 2) look like crap when knit into fabric. Even this yarn, which was rather unintentionally thick-and-thin, is looking really good knit up. But it did need a bit of coaxing.


Thick-and-thin singles yarn spun from BMFA Polwarth, colorway Prism.

This was the yarn that I finished during Spinzilla in October. I wanted to try to make a fat singles yarn. The tough part about singles yarn is getting the twist right. Since you aren’t plying the single with another single to balance the twist out, you have to be very careful not to put in too much twist to begin with. You also can’t put in too little or your yarn will not be strong enough and it will fall apart. Dilemma, dilemma!


Left: after removing extra twist. Right: before removing extra twist.

What I did was spin my singles and finish the skeins by alternating between soaking/agitating in HOT HOT HOT water and ice cold water. I plunged the skeins back and forth 3 times, roughing them up a bit in between. This made the fibers felt a little bit which helps to hold the yarn together. However, my skeins felt dense and ropey and they had far too much twist. So I wound them into balls and sent them back through the spinning wheel, spinning in the opposite direction to remove extra twist. You can see the difference in the photo above: after removing twist the yarn got much softer, lighter, and fluffier but is still plenty strong to knit with. (It almost feels a bit like Malabrigo!)

As I said before, genius! Mwahahahahahahaha! I’m excited to try spinning more singles yarns, now that I know they won’t be horrible when finished. What’s your favorite spinning trick?