Rhinebeck Reminiscing

Only slightly delayed, here’s my Rhinebeck recap! Rhinebeck was fun (obviously) but also super, duper busy. It’s different with a kid, and major props to the Fiasco for being there to care for the Hatchling while I was spending extra time at the festival. It wasn’t quite the relaxing family vacation we’d envisioned, but we’ll just have to plan for another one of those to make up for it.

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IndieUntangled acquisition.

We arrived on Friday, to an incredible AirBnB apartment in Saugerties. (Seriously, it was lovely, we didn’t ever want to go home.) We went for dinner, visited The Perfect Blend  yarn and tea shop (they had a great spread going for knit night), and then arrived for the last half hour of the IndieUntangled Trunk Show and HOLY MOSES was it crowded. The instant claustrophobia kind of crowded, and of course many of the indie maker booths I wanted to see where slammed and inaccessible. However, I did manage to fight my way through to the Spun Right Round booth and acquired a lovely skein of 4-ply SW Merino Classic sock yarn in the neon-and-speckled Caterpillar colorway. (For all pics below, click to embiggen and hover for captions.)

As a super mega epic forever fan, the first thing we did after waiting in line for tickets (where Katy offered an assist in finishing the Hatchling’s sweater in time for Rhinebeck) was rush over to The Fold’s booth to check out the Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarns. There’s nothing like seeing a wall of Tina’s colorways in person! Since I have literally every skein of BMFA yarn that I’ve ever acquired from previous years at Rhinebeck still in stash, I refrained from buying more… somehow.

The rest of Saturday was long and filled to the brim with yarn, sheep, beautiful knit samples (at the Fiber Optic Yarns booth), a ridiculously long donut line for closing time, and a cranky toddler in need of a nap. He and the Fiasco went back to the AirBnB but then Katy and I stuck it out through the end of the festival which was a HUGE MISTAKE because there was so much traffic getting back that we missed getting dinner with the fellas and I got a little cranky.

Sunday morning we resisted the call of the festival to go for a bit of a hike, which was a great idea because it was a gorgeous morning and I don’t get outside nearly as much as I need to. We did a quick and easy trail to the Saugerties lighthouse on the Hudson River. It was delightful, many sweet and silly photos were taken, and the scenery was gorgeous.

I rather surprisingly don’t have many pictures of the second day besides the animal-themed ones above. I managed to meet up with a few Ravelry friends (although I missed most of the official meetups) and I think we were all a little wiped out by that point so we mostly just got lunch and speed-shopped that barns that we hadn’t visited yet. Which brings me to…

Besides the Spun Right Round skein from IndieUntangled, other pretties that came home with me included:

  • Six mini skeins from Primrose Yarn Co. to make a Tool Box Cowl (theoretically);
  • a skein of Into The Whirled Shokan Singles in The Cat’s Pyjamas;
  • a Jenkins Kuchulu Turkish spindle (the tiniest one I own!) in tulipwood;
  • an ounce of cashmere fluff; and
  • a little wooly sheep coin purse (courtesy of Katy).

I’m happy that I aimed to fill a niche in my stash that is underrepresented: speckles. These were also all new-to-me dyers, and I didn’t have any cashmere in the fiber stash before now. The only purely gratuitous purchase was the spindle, but I couldn’t help myself! Jenkins spindles are really hard to come by and I’ve been curious about their tiny model for some time. And so far, it’s a pleasure to spin short-stapled fluffy cashmere on because it’s so tiny and lightweight.

Do you shop with a purpose at festivals, or just tend to go with your impulses? I held myself back from many impulse purchases but it actually felt pretty good.

 

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Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn

Since the Rhinebeck Sweater is still in the same state it was on Monday, I’ll chat a bit about the other crafty thing occupying my attention right now: handspun sock yarn.

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

My view at Slater Mill.

Over the weekend, I took a sock yarn spinning class at Slater Mill with the Rhode Island Spinners Guild. The focus of the class was to experiment with different amounts of twist and plying structures to discover your personal ideal sock yarn. Amy King (of Spunky Eclectic) gave us lots of fibers to play with in class (green = Polwarth wool, gold = Falkland wool, handpainted autumn tones = Corriedale wool) as well as some samples to experiment with on our own (red = Wensleydale wool, white = generic wool roving, purple = Panda blend (superwash Merino, bamboo, nylon)).

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Spunky Eclectic fiber samples

We discussed three key things to think about when spinning your own sock yarn:

  1. what kinds of fibers make a good sock yarn, considering aspects like elasticity (different high-crimp wools), warmth (silk, camelids, luxury fibers), and strength (silk, nylon, bamboo, longwools),
  2. what types of prep are best for sock yarns (combed prep, worsted spinning), and
  3. most importantly, the amount of twist needed in the the singles and in the ply to make a yarn that is springy and strong while still feeling soft and comfortable.
Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Plyback samples.

We did a whole lot of spinning. I am not accustomed to spinning for 6 hours straight, so that was definitely an endurance run for me! We practiced making low twist singles that barely held together and very energized singles, and measured the twist per inch for each. For the first ‘typical’ 2-ply sock yarn, we spun our singles with an amount of twist somewhere between the low and energized samples we made. Then, during the plying step, we plied the singles as if we had spun them with the energized amount of twists per inch. So if our energized sample was 20 tpi, then our plied yarn measured 10 tpi (tpi in singles / # of plies). We also navajo-plied those same singles, and since that yarn had 3 plies, the plying tpi was proportionally lower (20 tpi / 3 plies = approx. 7 tpi).

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Polwarth sock yarn samples, 2-ply and n-ply.

If you’re confused about all of this, don’t feel bad, I think many people in class were lost. It was advertised as an intermediate class but you could be spinning for years and never get so technical about your yarns as to actually the measure the twists per inch. I think some of these concepts could have been explained a little more thoroughly, the only reason I understood the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ behind a lot of the instructions is because I’ve read up on all of this stuff before. That said, it was really beneficial to go through the steps of the exercise with some guidance.

The second half of the class focused on making opposing ply yarns, which are basically yarns where one or more of the singles is spun in the same direction as the plying twist, instead of the opposite direction as usual. Opposing ply yarns have a lot of extra energy that contributes to strength and elasticity, which can be really beneficial in sock yarns. I admit, however, that I am not a fan of these samples. It could perhaps be the fiber (I don’t love Corriedale) but even while swatching, I didn’t enjoy these yarns. They are crazy strong, though, I tried breaking the thread with my hands and nearly cut myself! For opposing ply yarns we plied everything in the S direction and made a 2-ply (gold = low twist S single, multi = high twist Z single) and a couple of 3-plies (2 gold + 1 multi, and 1 gold + 2 multi). I liked the 3-ply with two high twist Z singles and one low twist S single the best, likely because the amount of opposing ply in this yarn is quite low since the S single was low twist to begin with, so it feels the most ‘normal’.

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Opposing ply 2-ply, 3-ply, and ‘normal’ 2-ply.

I’ve swatched the n-ply Polwarth (not pictured, I forgot it!), 2-ply opposing ply yarn, and the 3-ply opposing ply yarn that I liked best (I didn’t bother with the other one) and then began to actually knit a little baby sock out of the 2-ply Polwarth that we first made. I really like the way this yarn came out. Polwarth is such a  springy, fluffy fiber to begin with, and with the extra ply twist the final yarn plumps up in such a satisfying way while still remaining soft. My 2-ply is a thicker sport-weight yarn, but it’s making a nice little sock and I’ve already got the rest of the sample fiber on the bobbin to spin more.

In conclusion, I’m really glad that my spinner’s guild arranged for Amy to teach us. The guidance for experimentation was really valuable and I am looking forward to spinning some more sock yarn! Now I just need to get my singles a bit thinner so I can spin a 3-ply yarn that comes out near fingering weight, as all my 3-ply samples were closer to worsted weight. Have you tried spinning your own sock yarn before? Do you have any favorite tips or tricks?

Orange Rosemary lotion bar

In preparation for Squam this weekend (squeeeeee!) I’ve been busily re-stocking the shop with some sold out lotion bar scents, including: Orange Rosemary, Lavender, Smoky Patchouli and have brought back a seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Spice. Check them out!

As for reading this week, my kindle is still dead (the horror!) but I picked up the largest John Irving book I could find and am slowly working my way through it: Last Night in Twisted River. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.